As we drift towards the end of the year, there’s a natural tendency to look back at the immediate past and reflect on it, while also thinking about what’s to come.

The year 2022 was, overall, a disappointing one for the global vehicle market. In November, the global light vehicle market eased off after a mild growth spurt. A global light vehicle market projected at 81.2 million units in 2022 is flat on 2021 and some 10% under 2019’s level (just over 90 million). Not so long ago, the global vehicle market seemed to be on course to hit 100 million sales a year, driven by ever rising household incomes across the world.

Global light vehicle market eases back

China is a particularly tough vehicle market to call right now. After a rapid post-lockdowns rebound that has run out of steam, the world’s largest market is in a state of considerable flux. Beijing’s decision to rapidly reverse the zero-Covid policy brings considerable risks and uncertainties – in terms of both the immediate public health outlook and knock-on economic  impacts. The next few months will tell us much about where the Chinese economy is heading and the Chinese government’s response to any economic fallout. If the economy takes a big hit, attention turns to possible stimulus measures – so don’t rule out extended or new incentives in the autos sector.

Meanwhile, competition in China in EVs is heating up.

On a forward looking note, we have published the December issue of the Just Auto Magazine, main theme: The automotive outlook for 2023.

M&A activity will be something to keep an eye on in 2023. This week Stellantis completed its acquisition of aiMotive, while Magna and Veoneer signed an agreement for Magna to acquire Veoneer’s active safety business from a private equity group.

Activity in electric vehicles and the associated supply chain is very busy and will remain so in 2023. Audi, for example, has just announced that it has started assembling a flagship electric Audi SUV (Q8 e-tron) at its Brussels plant, supported by an extensive European supply network.

Toyota Motor this week brought on stream a new production line in China dedicated to new energy vehicles (NEVs), or battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). Still on hybrids, Toyota is also investing at its UK engine factory for fifth generation hybrid electric powertrain production – the plant will make a new 1.8L petrol engine.

You don’t have to (yet) go electric on everything though and there are perhaps good reasons for some OEMs to stick with advanced ICE tech in some segments. Toyota in the A-segment, for example: Aygo X – why this tiny new Toyota isn’t electric

When it comes to selling cars, online retailing has long seemed like a slow train coming. There has always been the question, though, of how to get some helpful human interaction into a digital experience. Fiat thinks it has an important innovation in this area. Customers will be able to virtually configure, drive and then buy their car inside the human-assisted digital experience. Yes, someone is actually in there with you. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Fiat claims world first metaverse-powered dealership

Finally, we’re in the festive season and the holidays are about to commence. We’ll be out next week, but back at our desks on 3rd January 2023. Best wishes from all the team here.  

Dave Leggett, Editor, Just Auto