Asians will capture more share of U.S. output, CSM says
April 22, 2009 - 11:59 am ET
DETROIT -- Asian automakers will increase their share of North American
vehicle output as production slowly recovers from the recession, a top
automotive forecaster says.
Michael Robinet, vice president for global vehicle forecasts at CSM
Worldwide in suburban Detroit, says it will take three to four years for
North American production to recover to pre-recession levels. Robinet's
comments came at a meeting of the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership.
When production revives, Detroit automakers will only make about 45
percent of the total, Robinet says. In 2000, the Detroit 3 produced 77
percent of vehicles built in North America.
The "Asian Four" -- Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai -- will gain most
of the share of production lost by Detroit makers, he said.
Robinet said the industry will move away from large cars, full-sized
pickups and SUVs. Because of strict federal fuel-economy rules, he said,
"We're going to start driving more appropriately sized vehicles."
The strongest product segments will be in the so-called B, C and D
segments. Those are subcompact (Honda Fit, VW Rabbit), compact (Ford
Focus, Honda Civic) and mid-sized (Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu) vehicles.
Global vehicle production has dropped sharply, he added. In January
2008, automakers built vehicles at an annual rate of 74 million units.
Last January, the rate fell to 43 million units.
"In 12 months, we dropped over 30 million units of our production base,"
That has sent the industry's capacity utilization rate to about 60
percent. That's significantly below the 80 to 85 percent Robinet said is
needed to operate profitably.