Platinum prices could rise next year if North American trucking companies proceed with ambitious plans to buy new vehicles, UBS said Tuesday.

UBS surveyed North American trucking companies and found that they are more optimistic than their European counterparts, whose downbeat perspective prompted UBS to lower its truck sales forecast for 2011 and 2012.

Such an outlook matters because truck manufacturers must use platinum in the engines' catalytic converters to meet pollution standards. 

By contract, sentiment in North America is encouraging as respondents point to continued improvement in business conditions such that the outlook for 2012 purchases is bullish, UBS said Tuesday in a client note.

The investment bank found that North American indicated an acceleration in programmed purchases for 2012 by end-September versus reported plans as of end-June.

The fact that plans to purchase new trucks next year are gaining momentum despite the volatility in financial markets and overall weak sentiment is fundamentally positive for platinum, UBS said.

Platinum on the Comex was off $7.80 to $1,517.30 in late morning trading. Cash platinum was down $3.33 to $1,520.68.