According to current estimates, worldwide demand for automobiles is likely to grow this year by approximately 2 to 4%. This growth should be primarily driven by the ongoing expansion of the Chinese market and a moderate increase in demand in the United States. No impetus is to be expected from the Western European market, however. Demand in Japan will probably decrease significantly, with a perceptible negative impact on the growth of the world market.
In the US car market, after three years in succession with double-digit growth rates, significantly more moderate growth in demand is anticipated for this year. This is due on the one hand to the fact that the market has meanwhile returned to a respectable size and on the other hand to the below-average development of the US economy. The ongoing weakness of the economy and the still unresolved sovereign-debt crisis in the euro zone will continue to significantly dampen demand for cars in Western Europe. From today’s perspective, a further, but more moderate, market decline is to be expected, so new registrations will remain at their lowest level in 20 years. The German market should be about as big as last year; but from today’s perspective, a slight decrease cannot be ruled out, depending on further economic developments. The Japanese market was driven last year by catch-up effects and state incentives for car buyers. Following the expiry of those special effects, a significant drop in demand must be assumed for 2013.
For the car markets of the emerging economies, growth prospects are relatively favorable overall, whereby market developments are likely to display considerable regional differences. According to current estimates, growth in demand in the Chinese market could be rather stronger than last year. The premium segment should once again expand more dynamically than the total market. In India, the market volume will probably increase at a similar rate to that of 2012. In contrast, the number of cars sold in Russia should rise at a rather low rate.
Worldwide demand for medium and heavy trucks can be expected to increase perceptibly in 2013. However, this will mainly be driven by the significant recovery in China, which was responsible for a large proportion of the global drop in demand last year.
In North America, we anticipate a decline of 5 to 10%. This is due on the one hand to a recognizable market slowdown in the second half of 2012, and on the other hand to ongoing unwillingness to invest in the private sector because of the fiscal problems in the United States. For the European truck market, we expect demand to fall by up to 5% due to the ongoing weak economic environment. The Japanese market should be at about the prior-year level, following the expiry of certain special effects in connection with the reconstruction there. A significant recovery of up to 10% is expected for the Brazilian market thanks to better economic prospects and the continuation of favorable financing conditions. The Russian market has meanwhile returned to its level of before the global financial crisis and should expand moderately once again in 2013.
We expect the European van market to decline by approximately 5% in the year 2013, with demand in the southern countries in particular remaining weak. The outlook is positive for the United States, where we expect further expansion of the market for large vans. In Latin America, the market for large vans should expand again after the significant decline of last year. In China, we assume that our targeted market segment will recover slightly.
We expect a stable development of bus markets in Western Europe, with a market volume slightly higher than in 2012. Demand for buses in Latin America should increase again moderately after the distinct decline in 2012. In Brazil, the bus market should revive again in the medium term, also in connection with the upcoming soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Independently of the markets’ economic fluctuations, the regional distribution of demand has shifted significantly in recent years. The importance of the emerging markets has increased enormously not only for the industry as a whole, but especially for manufacturers of premium vehicles, and the trend is likely to continue in the coming years. This creates great challenges for the industry regarding production sites and flexibility, as well as the requirements of differing customers in a global market. Another factor is the continuing and increasing need to invest in fuel-efficient and future-oriented technologies and to develop and supply innovative and sustainable mobility and transport solutions.