Westlake Village, California – Light-vehicle sales in emerging markets have surpassed the share of sales from economically mature regions, but this will make it more difficult to control vehicle emissions, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The shift in sales is led largely by growth in China.

“This marks a new world order with respect to global automotive sales,” said John Humphrey, senior vice-president of automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “Mature markets like the United States, Western Europe and Japan are only expected to return to pre-recessionary sales levels by 2015, and during that period they will be overshadowed by exponential growth in China, India, Brazil and Russia. With China at the forefront, emerging markets have overtaken mature markets, and will continue to be the primary source of growth for the sector going forward.”

In 2010, sales in emerging markets made up 51 per cent of global sales, but are expected to increase steadily to 60 per cent in 2015. Sales in China in 2015 are projected to total 29 million units, with the U.S. following with just 16.5 million units.

Global light-vehicle sales are expected to increase from 77 million units in 2011 to 103 million in 2015, and to 125 million by 2020. Of this total, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are expected to account for 57.7 million sales, or 46 per cent of the global total. While it took approximately 95 years to get to the first 500 million passenger vehicles simultaneously in operation, achieved in 2010, it will only take another 20 years for units-in-operation on the world’s roads to exceed one billion with the addition of the emerging markets.

This shift in global auto sales will be a major obstacle to controlling or reducing emissions from internal combustion engines, the forecast company said. Countries that are still developing economically and technologically may be less inclined or less capable of keeping pace with global normals and standards for emission reductions. Buyers in these markets also tend to be more sensitive to price pressure than those in economically mature markets, favouring sales of traditional internal combustion engines. It is unlikely that buyers in developing markets will pay the premium for hybrid or battery-powered vehicles.

“Although some governments are taking steps to reduce auto-related carbon emissions, the sheer volume of vehicles being added to the global fleet over the next decade will largely negate these efforts,” Humphrey said. “The global growth pattern points to vehicle carbon emissions and overall air quality getting worse before they get better.”

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