The People’s Republic of China has been a manufacturing behemoth for decades, but only in the past 10 years the country has been gaining global momentum in the manufacture of automobiles. Meanwhile, European production has been decelerating under the weight of its sovereign debt crisis that has pummeled local demand for big ticket items.
The result of these two trends: China could end 2013 having produced 19.6 million passenger cars and trucks while Europe is expected to end the year having made 18.3 million vehicles, according to research from five forecasting groups commissioned by The Financial Times.
This would be an important moment in the global auto industry. Europe, where industry was born and where just a decade ago the region was responsible for 35 percent of all cars manufactured worldwide, has seen its share of the market shrink to nearly 20 percent. Much of that lost production has moved to China, which has seen a nearly seven-fold increase in share of auto manufacturing – from 3.5 percent in 2000 to a projected 23.6 percent by the end of the year.
And a lot of these cars are staying in China, too, which in early 2009 surpassed the United States in vehicle sales for the first time. Chinese factories not only makes cars for the international and local market for some of the world's largest automakers, they also produce home-grown vehicle breands, such as Geely and Hafei.
The estimates of China’s auto manufacturing were provided by Englewood, Col.-based market research firm IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS), LMC Automotive, Ltd. of Oxford, UK, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP of New York, and Swiss investment banks UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) and Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS)
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