Global automotive industry to experience modest growth in 2012

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London, 6 January 2012 – The key themes shaping the automotive industry over the next year are highlighted by EY’s 2012 global automotive outlook.

Modest growth is forecast next year in line with 2011, with a further cooling of demand from many emerging markets and a continuation of weak sales from the majority of developed markets. This follows a modest expansion in the global automotive market in 2011 of around three per cent.

The five themes that are likely to be critical for the auto sector for 2012 are:

• The cooling of emerging markets growth is likely to be an area of concern for the industry in 2012. However, long-term outlook remains positive.

• Developed automotive markets in Europe are likely to witness weak sales as a result of the sovereign debt crisis and the sales growth in the US is likely to remain uncertain. While these markets were forecast to recover to 2007 levels of production and sales by 2012, this is now likely to be delayed until the middle of the decade.

• The intensifying competition for a market share among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) globally is likely to create pressures on the supply chain. Emerging economies, especially China, are becoming the largest markets for a number of global OEMs. As a result, these OEMs face the challenge of not only defending their share in their home markets, but also leveraging the growth in emerging markets. The competitive environment will place operational and financial pressures on suppliers.

• The auto industry is expected to fully recover from the impact of the two natural disasters, the Japanese earthquake and the Thai floods, that caused severe vehicle and parts shortage in the past few months. These disasters led to a reduction in automotive inventories and offer companies a unique opportunity to evaluate production footprint and put in place processes to respond to future supply chain disruptions.

• The uncertainty of raw material prices is likely to be a key concern for suppliers and they need to look at various options from structuring pricing contracts to joint sourcing strategies.

Jeff Henning, Global Automotive Markets Leader for EY, says: “2011 was another challenging year for the global automotive industry in both developed and emerging markets, with the crippling Thai floods and the Japanese earthquake coming at a time when demand was already being impacted by the economic downturn.

Our Automotive Capital Confidence Barometer released late last year, however, identified growing confidence among automotive executives, with the vast majority of respondents having surprising faith in the resilience of the global economy. Executives also indicated maintaining or lowering levels of debt as an important theme, with a large proportion expecting their debt-to-capital ratio to decrease or remain the same this year.”

Key trends from 2011 that are likely to continue to significantly impact the industry in 2012:

  1. OEMs collaborate to develop alternate powertrains and low emission vehicles to comply with regulatory pressures, however demand is still sluggish.
  2. Amid stable-to-positive earnings outlook, most automotive companies will look to deliver sustainable, profitable growth.
  3. A focus on creating increased visibility of the overall health and resilience of supply chains will continue.
  4. The marginal increase in IPOs in 2011 (over 2010) driven by activities of Chinese companies is likely to continue into 2012. While merger and acquisition (M&A) and private equity (PE) activity in the industry remained flat in 2011 compared to 2010, EY’s October 2011 Capital Confidence Barometer study found a surprising appetite for deals among automotive executives in the next 12 months.

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How EY’s Global Automotive Center can help your business
The global recession reset the automotive industry landscape. As the industry recovers, automotive companies across the value chain must focus on profitable and sustainable growth, financial and operational stability, investments in new technologies and seizing opportunities in high-growth markets. If you lead an automotive business, you need to anticipate trends, identify implications and make informed decisions that support your business goals.

Our Global Automotive Center enables our worldwide network of more than 7,000 industry focused assurance, tax, transaction and advisory professionals to share powerful insights and deep sector knowledge with businesses like yours. These insights, combined with our technical experience in every major global automotive market, will help you to accelerate strategies and improve performance. Whichever segment of the automotive industry you are in — from component suppliers to commercial or light vehicle manufacturers or retailers — we can provide the insights you need to realize your potential today and tomorrow.

About EY
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This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.