The US light vehicle market is hitting rock bottom and will slowly recover volume over the next few years, according to analysts at IHS Global Insight.

US-based analysts at the research firm have delivered their latest prognosis for the US market in a webcast.

George Magliano, Director, North American Automotive Industry Research, said that the current economic situation meant that there was some good news and clear signs of 'light at the end of the tunnel'.

However, he said the bad news is that there is still a way to go in terms of working through the recession-recovery process. "It's not until 2010 that we will see the financial crisis unravel," he said, referring in particular to problems with toxic debt in the banking and housing sectors.

"It will be a slow and long climb back to health," he added.

As far as the automotive market is concerned, Mr Magliano pointed out that incentives are at record levels and that consumers are showing greater optimism over intention to purchase vehicles over the next six months. Another favourable factor is zero percent interest rates for those able to get car purchase loans. And he also believes pent-up demand is building.

However, he forecast that the US vehicle market will turn in a record low SAAR in May - below 9m units - ahead of a slow pick up over the remainder of the year. After a 9.5m unit market in 2009, the market climbs to 11.3m units in 2010.

In the medium-term, IHS Global Insight forecasts that the US market will exceed 17m units by 2014.

Under the firm's analysis of driving age population, Magliano maintains that a return to that level is a conservative forecast, implying that vehicle sales remain well below recent levels when expressed as a percentage of the total driving age population.