PwC's automotive analyst group, Autofacts, has forecast that 2012 global light vehicle assembly will exceed 79m units, an increase of 6.8% from 2011's total. 

Although many market uncertainties will carry over into 2012, Autofacts remains optimistic that the global automotive industry outlook will be positive, assuming that a policy resolution in the European Union materialises in the near-term.

“A lot depends on how the situation in Europe with sovereign debt pans out,” said Autofacts analyst  Calum MacRae speaking to just-auto.

"China, in particular, has been a major positive from a global volume perspective, and we expect Asia-Pacific to continue to be positive in 2012, but the global scenario planning range is weighted firmly on the downside. A lot depends on what happens in Europe and on the scale of any financial instability, the effects of which could be felt across the world. Overall growth of vehicle assembly next year could slow to nearer 1%."

But the central case based on 'mild recession' in Europe is for a gain globally of almost 7%. What is contributing to the positive outlook?

Autofacts highlights a number of positives:

  • Monetary tightening and other policy shifts in Brazil, India, and China caused slower growth in 2011. But, with inflationary fears in these markets subsiding (prompting correspondingly looser monetary policy), these markets could be poised for substantial growth once again.
  • Russia is positioned for another year of strong local demand.
  • BRIC growth is likely to reach double digits (12%) in 2012 following only five percent growth in 2011.
  • Potential exists for strong output recovery in Japan and Thailand as the auto sectors in both countries work to satisfy pent-up demand, clear product backlogs, and rebuild inventory in the wake of 2011's natural disasters. Thailand's eco-car program is also likely to provide assembly upside in 2012.
  • North American industry outlook remains positive although volumes are not expected to achieve prior peaks. Autofacts predicts an 860,000 year-over-year increase - in North America production predicated on healthier inventory, export growth, and US light vehicle sales of 13.6m units in 2012.

"The US region's automotive sector is poised for continued growth in 2012," said Rick Hanna, global automotive leader, PwC.  "Automotive companies have ramped up vehicle inventories and growth markets are easing monetary policy. Although uncertainty persists, we anticipate the global automotive industry will run on all cylinders toward another record year as long as Europe's issues don't spill over to other regions."