That would be a 2.4-percent increase compared with 2014 and would continue the industry's recovery in the wake of the global economic meltdown. While IHS expects continued expansion this year in key markets, growth is slowing worldwide amid uncertainty in Russia and South America.
IHS predicts North American sales will increase 2.5 percent to 20 million units this year spurred by continued strength in the US market, which could reach 16.9 million sales. The IHS findings mirror research from other firms, including Morgan Stanley and TrueCar, which are calling for around 17 million sales in the United States as gas prices remain low, consumer confidence is strong and financing is readily available. Automakers report US sales for January today, February 3.
China, meanwhile, is forecast to grow seven percent to 25.2 million vehicles this year, as consumers get better access to financing, dealership networks expand and the government supports scrappage programs designed to spur sales. Premium vehicles are expected to show strength and account for more than two million sales this year, increasing 15 percent over 2014. The SUV sector is also expanding to secure 28 percent of the market, a slight upturn from last year as drivers look to the segment to meet their changing needs, said Lin Huaibin, IHS Automotive manager for its China light vehicle sales forecast.
Still, IHS is tempering its growth projections due to uncertainty in Russia, which could affect other markets in Europe. Russia, which is in a deep recession, dealing with volatile currency and facing broader war in Ukraine, is expected to see its vehicle sales dwindle to just 1.8 million units, a drop of 27 percent from last year and a 40-percent collapse compared with 2012 sales, IHS says.
Conversely, auto sales in Western European nations are expected to increase three percent this year, following a five-percent leap in 2014. India is also seen as stabilizing, IHS says, and is expected to swing into a growth period after two down years.
IHS also sees a weakening auto sector in South America, as its largest market, Brazil, slips to 3.25 million sales amid weak job generation, tighter financing and an increase in the industry tax.