Despite the Eurozone crisis and slowing economic growth in the most populous countries, global automobile sales ended 2011 at record highs. With vehicle manufacturers around the world reporting more gains in January, 2012 looks like it could be a banner year.
Automotive information provider R. L. Polk & Co. projects that global auto sales will grow 6.7% in 2012, with gains anticipated in all regions except Europe.
The United States is expected to record a healthy growth of 7.3%, but the global leader will be China, with an anticipated 16% increase over 2011. Polk analysts anticipate much of this growth to occur outside of the large metropolitan cities of Shanghai and Beijing.
Growth in the other BRIC countries will outpace many mature markets over the next few years. As an example, Polk expects Brazil to surpass Germany as 2011 sales results are finalized, and new vehicle sales in India are expected to surpass those sold in Germany in 2014. Sales growth in Russia will likely be flat in 2012, however, Polk anticipates sales in Russia to outpace Germany by the year 2015.
Not every company is in a good position for this boom. The earthquake in Japan harmed Toyota Motors (TM
), while Tata Motors (TTM
) is still trying to figure out how to sell the Nano.
On the other hand, Chrysler has completed an amazing comeback under the leadership of Fiat (FIATY
), and Volkswagen (VLKAY
) is predicted to surpass both General Motors (GM
) and Toyota in 2012.
Investors looking for broad exposure to the resurgent auto market should look at the First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto ETF (CARZ
), which covers auto-makers around the world. It’s up 17.86% for the year-to-date.