Light-vehicle output for 2013 is forecast to increase by 105,000 units, with gains at Honda, Chrysler and Ford overwhelming cuts at General Motors and Volkswagen, while 2014 should see a 200,000-unit hike.
Europe’s biggest market, Germany, reportedly posted a March decline of 17%, worsening its 10.0% drop in the first two months of 2013, while Russia, the region’s second-biggest market, saw its first sales slump in 36 months.
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.