Pent up retail demand for new cars and trucks in North America is giving the automobile market a lift. Consulting firm AT Kearney predicts that US light vehicle sales will move back to historical levels (about 16 million) by 2012.

Key indicators are on track for a “robust US automotive industry recovery” says Kearney, noting that most of the automotive suppliers that it surveyed in November expected 2010 to end at least 20% higher than 2009.

In China, new vehicle sales are booming. In Europe, however, registrations remained lower than last year’s levels as 2010 came to an end – down 5.7% in November, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA. There were notable exceptions, however. BMW brand sales were up 15% for 2010 versus the previous year, with strong sales in Germany, the USA and China. Volkswagen was expecting an 11% increase over last year’s sales, and Mercedes-Benz posted the best November sales of all time, continuing at the double-digit rate for the 13th month in a row.

It appears that demand for electric vehicles, which rely on lightweighting to counter their heavy battery packs, may not increase as fast as some believe.

J.D. Power and Associates released a new report, Drive Green 2020: More Hope than Reality, which predicts that sales of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will make up only 7.3% of the passenger vehicles forecasted to be sold worldwide by 2020. By comparison, the report notes that HEV and BEV sales were expected to total 2.2% of all vehicles sold in 2010 globally. In the US, the extra US$5000 required on average to acquire one of the vehicles is a significant roadblock to higher sales, observes J.D. Power.
 


This article is an extract from the feature Rebounding automotive industry is welcome news for FRP sector published in the January/February 2011 issue of Reinforced Plastics magazine. Read the complete feature here.