Westlake Village, California – Global light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 76.5 million in 2011, surpassing the record of 72 million sold in 2010, according to a forecast by J.D. Power and Associates. If sales reach their expected levels, it would mark a six per cent increase over 2010, which in turn shattered the previous record of 70 million units set in 2007.

“Overall growth in the world economy has been supporting further recovery in auto sales,” said John Humphrey, senior vice-president of automotive operations. “We’re seeing signals of stability and increased consumer demand for new vehicles as economic optimism increases.”

Most regions saw sales growth in 2010, including North America, South America and Asia, particularly in China. Western Europe was the notable exception, as its sales suffered when the government-sponsored vehicle scrappage programs expired in 2010.

Also, for the first time in 2010, emerging auto markets accounted for 51 per cent of global light-vehicle sales, signalling the shift of power in the global automotive market that has been taking place during the past five years.

Canada’s light-vehicle sales finished at 1.6 million units in 2010, a seven per cent increase from 2009, while the U.S. sold 11.6 million light vehicles, an increase of 11 per cent from 2009, when retailers sold 10.4 million units. While slightly better than anticipated, Europe’s sales were flat at 18.2 million units, and the market was down four per cent in the western part of the region.

The Asia Pacific region’s mature markets ended 2010 with mixed results. Japan’s selling rate improved slightly in December, Korea’s sales remained strong, and Australia ended 2010 with the second-highest annual sales total in its history.

In China, 17.2 million units were sold, up by more than 30 per cent from 2009. India also increased its sales by more than 30 per cent, for a total of 2.7 million units.

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