Auto Production Roars to New Records

Michael Renner | Sep 11, 2012

Following a plunge in output triggered by the global economic crisis, world auto production is roaring back to new peaks. According to London-based IHS Automotive, passenger-car production rose from 60.1 million in 2010 to 62.6 million in 2011—and 2012 may bring a new all-time record of 66.1 million.1 (See Figure 1.) Even though output of light trucks has declined, the combined numbers for passenger vehicles rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011 and may surpass 80 million in 2012.2

Automobiles Figure 1

The auto industry’s production capacities are far from fully used. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) estimates current global vehicle assembly capacity at almost 95 million.3 Auto manufacturing capacity continues to grow, and annual output could reach the 100 million mark by 2016.4

Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million in 2010 to 78.6 million in 2011, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012.5 Rising sales numbers translate into ever-expanding fleets. An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world’s roads in 2011.6 When both light- and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier.7 By the end of 2012, the number could top 1 billion vehicles—one for every seven people on the planet.8 One of the main drivers behind this growth is China, where the passenger vehicle fleet grew at an annual average rate of 25 percent in 2000–11, from under 10 million cars to 73 million.9

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