Car sales may rise 12 percent to 14.3 million this year and 3.5 percent to 14.8 million in 2013, Southfield, Michigan-based AlixPartners said. In the three years through 2016, sales may rise 7.4 percent to 15.9 million, the company said. That trails the market’s pre-recession high of 17.4 million in 2000.
Auto sales in Western Europe may decline 6.9 percent to 13.5 million in 2012, for the fifth-consecutive annual drop, AlixPartners estimated. Deliveries in the region will rise to 14 million in 2013 while remaining below 2007’s peak of 16.8 million through 2021, according to the report.
Auto sales in China may rise to 19.2 million this year, about 1 million lower than AlixPartners estimated last year. Sales in the world’s most populous country may increase to 21.4 million in 2013 and 23.5 million in 2014, the report said.
It is estimated that China’s automobile market will keep a stable growth from 2012 to 2015, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.1%. The sales volume is expected to reach 25.287 million by 2015.
China could double US car sales in 2017/2018 and be equal the combined car sales in Western Europe and the United States.
Growth rates for parts and services are expected to top 30% as the number of cars on the road in China grows to more than 145 million by 2015.
More Aluminum will be used in Cars
Aluminum has been used in automobile body, mainly for engine cabin covers, doors and trunk lids, in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea, represented by Audi’s A8 and A2, Chrysler’s Prowler and Jeep, Subaru’s Legacy and Hyundai’s Motors Genesis. However, China has seen a slow growth of aluminum application in automobile due to technical bottlenecks. Once technical breakthroughs are achieved, massive application of aluminum sheets in automobile construction can be expected. CCID Consulting estimates that the passenger vehicle market will need at least 1.802 million tons of aluminum sheets annually, assuming that aluminum replaces 15% of the steel used in automobile manufacturing by 2015. Even if aluminum only replaces 5% of the steel, the demand will still be as large as 601,000 tons.
With a density only one third of that of steel, the aluminum body of a passenger vehicle weighs 46% less than a traditional steel one, which also improves safety and fuel efficiency.
Aluminum alloys currently used in automobile body include Al-Cu-Mg (2000 series), Al-Mg (5000 series) and Al-Mg-Si (6000 series). The 5000-series alloys boast low cost and good shaping property, but they will leave traces of tensile strain after being shaped and need re-polishing with abrasive materials. In response to this, aluminum materials suppliers have developed the 6000-series alloys, which are preferred by automobile manufacturers for their better performance in extension, stretching and anti-pit ability. However, being thick and expensive, aluminum alloy sheets currently found in the Chinese market still cannot meet the requirements of the automobile manufacturers.
Regarding the application technologies, including preprocessing, thermal treatment, shaping, soldering, spray finishing and baking, the key is to have the aluminum companies and automobile manufacturers conduct R&D cooperation and develop such techniques as spray finishing and selection of paint colors. In addition, automobile manufacturers also need to purchase required devices such as soldering devices if they decide to use aluminum sheets.