Experts predict 6.7 per cent global automobile sales growth in 2012

THE number of cars and light trucks sold globally will grow 6.7 percent this year, led by Chinese demand outside the population centers of Shanghai and Beijing, a research company based in Southfield, Mich,  R.L. Polk & Co has said.

According to the group, sales will rise to 77.7 million vehicles, helped by a 16 percent gain in China to 17.9 million.

China sales were unchanged at 15.5 million in 2011, Polk estimated, after the government phased out purchase incentives.

“Growth in China will pick up again in 2012,” said Anthony Pratt, Polk’s director of forecasting for the Americas. “The growth there will be more a function of natural demand than stimulus, and the expansion in the second_and third_tier cities is a trend that’s going to continue to develop.”

Sales in Europe will be unchanged at about 19 million vehicles, as austerity measures and sovereign_debt concerns prevent governments from offering scrappage programs and other incentives for purchasers, Polk said.

Sales in Europe were about 19.2 million last year, after reaching 18.5 million in 2010, Polk estimated.

In the U.S. market, sales of cars and light trucks will rise 7.3 percent to 13.7 million, Polk said.

The United States won’t surpass its pre_recession sales level of 16 million vehicles until 2015, Polk said.

Luxury cars will remain the fastest_growing part of the U.S. market, with more than 14 percent growth, according to the forecast reported by Bloomberg. Sales topped 12.7 million in 2011, Polk estimated, after totaling 11.5 million in 2010.

Growth in the BRIC countries   Brazil, India, Russia and China – should outpace that of most mature markets “over the next few years,” Polk said.

The researcher said it expects forthcoming data to show that sales in Brazil exceeded those in Germany in 2011. India will surpass Germany by 2014, Polk said. Sales in Russia, while likely to be unchanged in 2012, will be larger than Germany’s by 2015, Polk  added

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