Can you name the fastest-growing vehicle segment on the planet? Yeah, I couldn’t either until I recently spent the day immersed in an analysis of this and other global ‘hot’ topics at the 2015 Automotive Industry Outlook Conference, hosted by LMC Automotive in Birmingham, Michigan.
Among the global takeaways – a growing consumer preference for small, medium-size and sporty SUVs in markets such as North America, Asia, Pacific, Western Europe and Brazil. A bright note for FCA in Brazil – despite high unemployment, high inflation and political scandal resulting in declining car sales of 33% overall year-over-year, the Jeep Renegade is the 4th best-selling SUV with a year-to-date market share of 8%. Although the overall industry growth continues to struggle in China and Russia, the analysts said light vehicle sales in North America are up 5.5% this year, driven mainly by SUVs and pickups. SUVs and the Chrysler 200 helped push demand growth to 6.4% for FCA. New investment and sourcing shifts are driving OEM growth in Mexico, where FCA tops the list with the most gains.
Another ‘hot’ topic in the Q & A portion of the presentation was ‘How is the diesel scandal fallout affecting mature and emerging markets around the world?’ The short answer, according to LMC Automotive analyst Jeff Schuster, was that diesel’s reputation has been damaged, but the longer-term impact could be reduced with good crisis management. Meanwhile, he added, the fallout could benefit the growth of hybrid/electric vehicles.