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Scotiabank forecasts 4% growth in global auto market in 2015 to 74M units, led by China

Scotia
2015 forecast share by region. Data: Scotiabank. Click to enlarge.

In its latest Global Auto Report, Scotiabank forecasts record global car sales in 2015, with the total market advancing 4% over 2014, reaching more than 74 million units. Global growth will mainly be driven by China, where Scotiabank expects auto demand to grow 7% in 2015 to 19.36 million units, up from an estimated 18.1 million units in 2014. Under the forecast, China will thus represent 26% of global auto sales in 2015.

Despite growing concerns about an economic slowdown in China, demand for new automobiles continues to be driven by rising vehicle ownership in tier 2 and 3 cities, especially for CUVs, which are advancing by 40% per annum, the report noted.

Asia as a whole will see 33.75 million units sold, according to the report, or 46% of global auto sales.

Asia now consumes more than 30 million barrels of oil per day—roughly the same as all of the Americas—but its oil production stands at roughly 9 million barrels per day, the report notes, leaving the region dependent on external sources for more than 70% of its petroleum—triple the import level of the Americas.

Calendar-year 2015 is also likely to set all-time highs for the North American auto market, the report said. Scotiabank expects combined vehicle sales and production in Canada, Mexico and the United States over the coming year to surpass the 2000 peak, when sales totalled 19.8 million units and assemblies topped 17.6 million. Both Canada and Mexico set sales records in 2014, and are poised to exceed those totals in 2015, as exports from both countries benefit from robust US demand.

In the US, sales will approach 17 million units, said Scotiabank; nearly 40% of all vehicles on the road in the United States are now at least 12 years old, according to the report’s estimate, setting the stage for an extended replacement cycle. The industry delivered 16.5 million light vehicles in the US last year.

(General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra also expects light vehicle sales in the United States to reach a range of 16.5 million to 17.0 million units in 2015. )

Other elements of the forecast include:

  • A slight increase in sales in Western Europe (from 12.1 million to 12.5 million units), despite ongoing downgrades to the economic outlook there.

  • A further double-digit fall-off in Russian car sales in 2015 (from 2.36 to 2.08 million units), reducing overall volumes across Eastern Europe to the lowest level in five years. The slowdown in Russia will be compounded by recent increases in car prices in response to the sharp decline in the ruble.

  • Improvement among the new EU members of Central and Eastern Europe. Poland is the key driver in the region, accounting for 40% of overall car sales. The Polish economy accelerated to more than 3% over the past year.

  • Challenging conditions in South America. Peru is likely to become the growth leader in 2015 alongside some acceleration in both public and private investment and improving household and business confidence. Vehicle penetration in Peru averages only 59 vehicles per thousand people, roughly one-third of the level across all of South America, and less than 10% of what is normal in the G7 countries.

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