Two of the world’s three main car production pillars
are now definitely near full strength, but the third major pillar, Western Europe, still looks distinctly
wobbly, suggesting that it will be some time yet before the entire global car production structure
rests once more on solid foundations.
Better than feared car production figures for last year produced a climate of cautious optimism among
the world’s leading car makers.
They suggest that the heavy cloud cover hovering over key markets such as Western Europe during the past half decade may
finally be lifting.
Whilst West Europe’s passenger car production was driving with the handbrake still partly on, all of that
slack was taken up by car factories in North America and China, which, with few notable exceptions, were last
year working at or near installed capacity limits.
Last year’s global passenger car production, thanks chiefly to ongoing business as usual in China and a return to
pre-crisis demand in the US, rose 3.6 per cent to 77.3 million cars, according to preliminary estimates from
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