Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/03/2012 -- BMI's view that pent-up demand and more fuel efficient vehicles on offer would enable the industry to better prepare for soaring fuel costs in 2012 than in 2008 continues to play out, as total light vehicle sales were up 14.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) in H112. Improved supplies of Japanese passenger cars are also still recovering, as evidenced by the gains in sales volume and market share made by the Japanese brands, which we also expect to contribute to another year of strong growth. Although the key factors driving growth in 2012 - replacing an ageing fleet and improved Japanese supplies - are not likely to carry over beyond this year, it leaves the industry in a much better position to return to its psychological benchmark of 16mn units before the end of our forecast period to 2016.
Improvements to the vehicles on offer, which are contributing greatly to growth, are evidenced by fuel efficiency data coming out of the US. According to the University of Michigan, the average fuel economy of light vehicles sold in June 2012 was 23.6mpg, down from 23.7mpg in May 2012 and 23.9mpg in April 2012. Since October 2007, fuel economy has increased 17% and since the start of 2012, when average fuel economy was 23.6mpg, the average has risen to a record peak of 24.1mpg in March 2012.
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However, while the passenger car segment still has the edge in growth terms, with light truck sales up 11.2%, compared with growth of 18.3% for car sales over H112, this is a slightly less pronounced gap than that earlier in the year, and reflects the stabilisation of car growth as the supply chain returns to normal after the disruption caused by the Japanese natural disasters of 2011. The first six months have also been positive for premium brands, many of which have reported double-digit growth for the half. With uncertainty in the European market still clouding the outlook for sales, a healthy US market has provided an opportunity for European high-end brands to achieve growth.
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