Industry leaders, usually known for their unfatiguing optimism, are more and more taking a cautious stance. GM’s CEO Dan Akerson predicts flat industrywide U.S. auto sales in 2012, while his colleague Carlos Ghosn, chief of Renault and Nissan, has feelings of “very great uncertainty” when he looks toward 2012.
In an interview with Automotive News [sub], Akerson said GM predicts “flattish” U.S. light-vehicle sales for next year. And that only if Europe’s debt crisis is not contagious and won’t affect the U.S. economy. Akerson sees the EU crisis as the biggest threat to auto sales and to the global economy.
For 2011, GM predicts U.S. light-vehicle sales will finish at around 12.7 million or 12.8 million, and for 2012, there won’t be much more: “As we go into ’12, we’re looking for kind of a repeat of ’11,” Akerson said. The pent-up demand will have to remain pent-up for a while.
Meanwhile in France, Carlos Ghosn said that “for 2012, we are all currently in a state of very great uncertainty for the time being.” Ghosn also fingered the debt crisis as a threat. Ghosn told Reuters that there “could be some grounds for optimism in 2012 if Europe managed to solve its sovereign debt crisis.” However, he does not see that happening anytime soon, because countries are not in agreement on the measures needed.
This time around, it also does not look like China will bail out the auto industry, as it happened in 2009 and 2010. At the Global Automotive Forum in Chengdu last week, none of the captains of the Chinese car industry doubted China’s long-term potential. But all were in agreement that next year, the industry won’t see much growth.
In Japan? Don’t ask.