Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services’ base-case outlook for global auto sales in 2012 is for sharper differences between regions than in 2011. The mixed outlook for passenger vehicle sales reflects an economic outlook that varies by region and so the outlook for credit quality also varies. The mixture of regional exposures is a key aspect of credit quality in 2012.
Our forecast for 2012 US sales of 14.2 million units means sales may climb comfortably above estimated replacements of 13 million for the first time since 2008.
And the first three months of 2012 have seen annualized rates of sales in excess of our 2012 forecast. Still, we remain cautious about potential weakness in the economic recovery because of challenges in Europe, the impact of slower growth in China, and the potential for U.S. fiscal showdowns late in 2012.
In Europe our base-case outlook assumes that light-vehicle sales will decline more significantly in 2012 than in 2011 (the fourth consecutive year of European decline). In Japan, new vehicle sales during the first three months of 2012 jumped by 47.5% compared with the same period in 2011; we expect improved supply conditions and the government’s new eco-car subsidy program to boost new vehicles sales. In the important markets of China and Brazil our base case is for slower, but still positive growth.
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