THE WEEK THAT WAS: Not all doom 'n' gloom out there

By Graeme Roberts | 4 January 2013

Happy New Year. And all that. Now, for those to whom it applies, the turkey and associated festivities are out of the way for another year, 'tis time to look back at 2012 sales and ahead at 2013.

Some of the Eurozone numbers already out (the UK data comes Monday; full Europe wraps from ACEA and JATO will be along soon) should be enough to make grown marketeers a little too dependent on The Continent weep: down 13.9% in France, Spain off 13.2% for the year and 23% in December alone, General Motors' German Patient Opel reportedly planning a 10% output cut this year, Italian sales off 20%. Even Germany was down, albeit by just 2.9%.

Yeah, but India would have been fine, wouldn't it? Er, not really. The results were a really mixed bag of good and not so good.

But there was some better news to offset the grey mood in Europe. After pulling his usual all nighter crunching numbers, our US analyst Bill Cawthon this morning filed news of a 14.5m year in the US, at the upper end of most expectations, and likely progress this year to 15m which is just about in the ballpark of recent memory, pre crash, good years.

Australia, not a market most Europeans think about, saw over 1.1m sales, a new record, and enjoyed its fifth million-plus year. It's interesting to see how well Mazda, a bit player over here, did Down Under.

Indonesia was up 23%, according to Our Man in the Warm Climate.

And little ol' New Zealand, a bizarre market which has for years imported roughly as many used cars, mostly from Japan, as new, broke the 100,000 barrier for only the third time since 1990.

The Korean industry overall did reasonably well with Hyundai and Kia well up, Ssangyong up a bit and GM and Samsung, down a little.

For 2013, there's some optimism out there. Renault-Nissan's Carlos Ghosn sees 3-4% growth worldwide to a record 82m vehicles.

Polk reckons the US will hit 15.3m in 2013, more or less in line with our forecast.

Volkswagen's US chief, basking in the warm glow of a 35% 2012 rise thanks largely to building a Passat designed for the US in the US, was a little cautious about 2013 but still saw growth albeit at a slower pace.

Hyundai reckons on a 4.1% rise to 7.4m units worldwide. It's worth a mental note of a new milestone - more vehicles built outside South Korea than within, something the Japanese are now used to.

Mazda is hiking capacity in Mexico before its new plant under construction there even thinks about Job One.

Subaru is boosting US capacity another 30% though I noted that the latest numbers will still be short of the peak a few years ago when the plant was shared with Isuzu rather than Toyota.

It's already shaping up to be an interesting year.

All our 2012 sales and 2013 forecasts coverage to date is grouped here

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com