Westlake Village, California – Emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China will become increasingly important to sustaining the global recovery of auto sales, as slow U.S. sales and increasing uncertainty in Europe indicate that recovery in established markets may be flagging, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

The company predicts that during the second half of 2010, China will grow its lead as the world’s largest vehicle market, even though its sales have slowed to low double-digit growth rate in 2010, from growth averaging 50 per cent in 2009.

“The centre of the automotive universe is shifting quite rapidly away from the established markets of North America and Europe,” said John Humphrey, senior vice-president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “It is the Asia Pacific automotive market that is turning into the global powerhouse. Sales in the region are forecasted to grow by 16 per cent year over year, to end 2010 at 27.9 million units. China is doing the heavy lifting, even though there are signs that growth in the China market is slowing slightly.”

North American sales are forecast at 14.2 million units for 2010, a 12 per cent increase from 2009, but still 25 per cent below 2007 levels. Within North America, Mexico is expected to show the largest year-over-year gain, with a forecast gain of 14 per cent in 2010 when compared with 2009, for a total forecast of 860,000 vehicles in 2010. Canada, which the company said has managed to escape heavy negative impact from the recession, is projected to increase sales by five per cent in 2009, to a total of 1.53 million units in 2010.

New vehicle sales in Europe are expected to decline by five per cent in 2009, to 17.2 million units, where payback from robust scrappage programs and various countries’ debt crises have derailed recovery.

In contrast to Europe, automotive sales in Japan appear more promising, with sales forecasted to increase by 11 per cent in 2010 compared with 2009, for a total of five million units.

Sales in China are expected to reach 15.6 million units in 2010, once again positioning it as the world’s largest vehicle market, with three million more units than in the U.S. Brazil is projected to reach sales of 3.3 million units in 2010, an increase of eight per cent over 2009, while India is expected to reach 2.5 million units in 2010, an increase of 19 per cent.

Although new vehicle sales in Russia declined by one-half in 2009, with 1.5 million units sold, the market is showing signs of modest recovery and is expected to sell 1.6 million units in 2010. However, J.D. Power predicts that sales in Russia will not likely achieve the peak levels of 2008 until 2014.

Overall, the global hybrid market is also transforming from niche to mainstream, with 910,000 units expected to be sold worldwide in 2010, an increase of 25 per cent over 2009. In 2015, hybrid vehicles are expected to sell 2.3 million units, accounting for four per cent of global light-vehicle sales.

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