TRAVERSE CITY, MI – North American light-vehicle sales are forecast by IHS Automotive to reach a hefty 18 million units by 2019, Mike Jackson, director-North America vehicle production forecasting and analysis, reports at the Management Briefing Seminars.

That compares with the firm’s prediction of 16.5 million LV deliveries this year, rising to above 17 million in 2014.

“There’s a willingness to buy cars,” Jackson says, driven by strong consumer confidence, declining unemployment and higher operating costs as vehicles become older.

The higher sales rate will recoup the estimated 3 million units lost during the 2008-2010 recession. “It should be 98% recovered by 2016,” he says.

The added volume is expected to “dramatically increase competition, and will trigger plant and production expansion. Capacity utilization (with three shifts common) will clearly keep the supply chain running fast to keep up,” Jackson says.

Primarily due to product-launch delays during the region’s economic downturn, IHS says capacity will be stretched as new models come into production. The company’s research shows 17 LV launches this year, 41 in 2014 and 30 or more each year through the remainder of the decade.