As the US financial crisis deepens and ripples through the global economy, worldwide light vehicle sales are expected to slow down and reach 56.8m units in 2009, a drop of 13% on last year, according to RL Polk.

After experiencing a 17% decline in 2008, US light vehicle sales are expected to decrease by another 19% in 2009. 

Polk’s US light vehicle sales forecast is estimated at 10.7m units for 2009; split between 8.5m units for consumer retail and 2.2m units for the fleet market. 

It says Western Europe is showing less volatility but is still expected to shrink to 13.5m units in 2009, a drop of 12% on 2008.

Even the Asian automotive market, which up to this point was experiencing steady and robust growth, will have to undergo a temporary correction, Polk warns.

Excluding Japan, Polk is forecasting 12.4m units for Asia in 2009 compared to sales of 13.3m units in 2008.

“As domestic automakers are hard at work on their respective turn-around plans, they have to estimate overall industry volume, individual market shares, and vehicle mix to project their revenue potential and align their global cost structure,” said Lionel Yron, director of Consulting & Analytics at Polk.

“With the inability to use rising home prices to generate liquidity and tighter lending rules, Polk sees the US market stabilizing around 16 million units within 3 to 5 years depending on the efficiency of the government stimulus package,” he added.