This suggests an unbroken five-year run of sales recovery and growth from a low point in 2009. 

However, a slowdown is being signaled with just two of the high-potential BRIC markets likely to see increased sales this year.

IHS Automotive analysts expect light vehicle sales in China to grow by 7% in 2015 to 25.2 million units, aided with increased auto finance penetration, fast dealership expansion and government vehicle scrappage programs. SUVs will also remain the fastest-growing segment in China in 2015. ‘We see SUV market share (as% of passenger vehicle sales) to increase from 26% in 2014 to 28% in 2015 as consumers look to this segment to address evolving transportation needs,’ said Lin Huaibin, manager, China light vehicle sales forecast, IHS Automotive.

In India, falling inflation, lower interest rates, energy prices and a regained confidence will help lift the car market into growth mode starting in 2015 after a two-year lull.

Sustained momentum

IHS Automotive projects regional light vehicle sales volume in North America to hit more than 20 million units in 2015, up 2.5% from last year. ‘Although the economic conditions and pace of recovery differ slightly among the North American countries, consumer confidence, credit availability and pent-up demand have played key roles in sustaining auto demand momentum since the Great Recession,’ reported Chris Hopson, manager, North American light vehicle sales forecasting, IHS Automotive. ‘This should help motivate sales once again in 2015.’ The IHS Automotive U.S. light vehicle sales forecast for 2015 is 16.9 million units.

Europe has been impacted by size of the contraction of the Russian car market, while other countries in the region continue to recover at a rate of 2.5 to 3%. As the Russian economy slumps into a deep recession in 2015, its negative impact on the Eurozone and surrounding countries could be large enough to offset the consumer benefit from falling fuel prices. Overall, the IHS forecast for light vehicle sales in Western Europe has only been fractionally upgraded for 2015 despite the benefits of US$60 oil.

After a better-than-expected 5% increase in 2014, light vehicle sales in the mature West European region are forecast to improve by another 3% in 2015.