The next two years will be marked by overtime and manufacturers matching capacity to rising demand. But there will be typical plant downtime for inventory control of slow-selling vehicles, as well as production shutdowns for major redesigns.
Driving the higher production forecast is an increase in WardsAuto’s overall LV sales outlook, pushed up by some 300,000 units to 15.3 million, as well as some fine-tuning in demand at the vehicle-line level.
Last year’s rate was the highest since WardsAuto began tracking the data in 2005, well above 2011’s 83.4%, and the most recent trough year of 2009, when manufacturers built to just 51.9% of their capacity.
The final 2012 tally reached 14.4 million light vehicles, 13.4% above 2011 and the best year since 16.1 million in 2007. It marked the third straight year-over-year increase since the industry bottomed out at 10.4 million in 2009 – a 27-year low.
Sales in 2012 are expected to end on a strong note amid indicators such as improving construction and home sales, relatively low fuel prices and demand that has been building since the recession year of 2009.
With the region’s fourth-quarter production forecast to rise 8.3% from year-ago, pending fallout from Superstorm Sandy, capacity utilization of 93.1% in the final three months of 2012 will be a period high.
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