Toyota Expected To Keep Lead In Global Auto Race

Toyota Camry The global auto funk won't end next year, or the year after. If market firm R. L. Polk is right, global light-vehicle sales will decline 14.7% from 2008 levels to 55.2 million units in 2009, and the market won't right-size until 2012.

Toyota will keep its hold as the top global auto manufacturer, with global share of 12% through 2020, predicts Polk. For Ford and General Motors, which have seen their global share of the auto market drop by about 5% from 2000 to 2008, Polk expects more losses at least until 2012. The firm says Volkswagen will gain nearly a point of market share in the next three years, because of activity in China. This year, in fact, Volkswagen will surpass GM as the No. 2 manufacturer in the world in a close race, the firm predicts.



The firm is also saying what may be obvious, that the U.S. will no longer be the major auto growth market. That boom will come from Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Africa and Asia-Pacific/Middle Eastern regions. Polk expects that in 2015 aggregated emerging markets will account for more auto sales than the U.S., Canada, Western Europe and Japan combined.

"We see China and India as key drivers of growth, as vehicles become attainable for an increasing percentage of these countries' huge consumer populations," said Uwe Biastoch, director of global forecasting at Polk. "Like Tata Motors with the recent launch of the low-cost Nano in India, manufacturers that innovate and produce market-specific products will be successful in emerging markets."

The firm also says the emerging markets will recover faster than the saturated ones -- with sales topping 2007 levels in 2011, something that will not happen in North America, Europe and Japan until 2014. This year will, in fact, mark a watershed for the industry, per Polk: the end of domestics as -- collectively -- U.S. market-share rulers. Per Polk, Asian manufacturers will capture 47% of U.S. market share, compared to 44% for American automakers and 9% for European brands.

Western Europe will fare better because its countries have enacted scrappage laws that pay people to get rid of junk vehicles. The firm says sales in Western Europe will fall 9% from 2008 to 2009, versus 24% in the United States and Canada.

"The U.S. market is currently in a state of flux, with the impact of Chrysler's Chapter 11 filing yet to be realized and GM's fate uncertain. It also remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will follow the lead of some European countries and reward consumers who turn in old vehicles and purchase cleaner cars, and what the impact of such a fleet modernization initiative might be," said Ulrich Winzen, chief analyst at Polk.


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