TRAVERSE CITY, MI – By 2012, design and production of the top-10 global automotive platforms will take place entirely in Europe and Asia, leaving North America with just a handful of the large platforms used for trucks and SUVs, says Mike Wall, director-North American market assessment for CSM Worldwide.

“North America will be dropped from the (global) list,” he says, adding that CSM predicts 4-½ global platforms will come out of Europe and 5-½ from Asia, with the half being those split between Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

“So the magnitude in terms of the shifting toward even more Asian and European players is still there,” Wall says.

The practice of basing more than one vehicle on a common platform is one reason for the coming trend, Wall says, adding Toyota Motor Corp. is leading the way when it comes to sharing platforms across its model lineup.

“Look at the Toyota MC platform here: We predict 4.6 million units by 2012. That’s going to be a monster of a platform in terms of leveraging everything from a Camry to a Lexus RX to a Toyota Sienna,” he says.

“It’s a significant amount of economies of scale that can be afforded to Toyota and hopefully to the supply base where (they) can ‘commonize’ a lot of those parts.”

Wall says General Motors Corp. is another auto giant that is beginning to realize the benefits of platform sharing.

“With Epsilon 2 (or the global midsize vehicle architecture, as it is now known), from what we’ve been hearing, GM has been doing a better job in leveraging suppliers and using them on a global scale and global basis and looking for global presence on the supply chain side,” Wall says.

“So they can hopefully get the economies of scale Toyota and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and other players are getting.”

Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. is another up-and-coming auto maker, Wall says. “Hyundai has been somewhat of a stealth player, but they’re not really stealth anymore. They’re in the market for real.

“As these auto makers look to not only bolster production in existing segments and nameplates, but move into segments (where) they haven’t competed in the past, it’s setting up for some sizable opportunities going forward,” Wall says of the so-called “new domestics.”

CSM has been tracking other auto industry trends, and despite recent headlines depicting doom and gloom, there are bright spots on the horizon.

This year, CSM is predicting the North American market will account for 16.97 million light-vehicles. Another positive trend is the growing number of households with more than one vehicle.

Still, two of the domestic Big Three auto makers face rough road ahead, says Wall. “GM and Ford (Motor Co.) will lose about 3.6 points of market share by 2012.

“DaimlerChrysler (Corp.) may see a little growth,” he says. “With Ford, we’re more concerned with product cadence and plant utilization.”

CSM also sees room for growth in the minicar segment, especially as gas prices continue to rise.

bpope@wardsauto.com