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2012 new vehicle sales to rise 6.7% worldwide

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Jan. 3, 2012—Roughly 77.7 million new vehicles are expected to be sold worldwide in 2012, a 6.7 percent increase compared to 2011, according to an automotive forecast issued Tuesday by global automotive market intelligence firm Polk.

Polk said China is expected to make the largest contribution to global new vehicle sales growth. About 17.9 million new vehicles will be sold in China in 2012, a 16 percent increase compared to 2011. Most of that growth will occur outside the large metropolitan cities of Shanghai and Beijing, according to Polk analysts.

The U.S. market will experience single digit growth in new vehicle sales, Polk said. That’s due to the relatively strong year for new vehicle sales in 2011, and the effects of the weak economy that will continue to impact vehicle demand throughout 2012.

Polk said 13.7 million light vehicles will be sold in the U.S. in 2012, a 7.3 percent increase compared to 2011. Polk analysts do not expect the U.S. market to achieve pre-recession levels of more than 16 million vehicle sales per year until 2015.

Luxury vehicle sales in the U.S. market is expected to be the fastest growing segment, Polk said, with more than 14 percent growth over 2011.

“More affluent buyers are returning to the market for new vehicles, after three years of spending reductions,” said Anthony Pratt, Polk’s director of forecasting for the Americas. “The luxury segment also offers a wide variety of product options for consumers across all segments, ranging from small cars to SUVs.”

New vehicle sales in Europe are expected to remain flat, with roughly 19 million units sold. Polk said austerity plans will prevent European governments from boosting 2012 sales through scrappage programs and other incentives that were offered in previous years.

Polk said growth in BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—will outpace other mature markets over the next few years. Polk expects both Brazil and India to surpass Germany in new vehicle sales by 2014. Russia will outpace Germany by 2015.

Southfield, Mich.-based Polk is a privately held global firm with operations in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. The organization collects and interprets global data to provide automotive business expertise to help customers understand their market position, identify trends, build brand loyalty and develop new business.

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