Auto Outlook: 1.7 billion motor vehicles

By AL SWANSON, UPI Auto Writer
The Mazda logo is seen at the company's display during the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place on February 9, 2012 in Chicago. UPI/Brian Kersey
1 of 8 | The Mazda logo is seen at the company's display during the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place on February 9, 2012 in Chicago. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

The prediction of a doubling in the number of motor vehicles on Earth by 2035 would seem to warrant a prescription for birth control.

The more than 7 billion people now on the planet get around in fewer than 1 billion motor vehicles and the global population is not expected to double in 23 years.


It's that emerging nations -- the world outside North America, Europe, Australia and Japan -- want to live what used to be called a Western lifestyle. Consumerism is now the global lifestyle.

The change has been under way for generations. The question is whether it can be expanded in a sustainable manner.

A 670-page report on global energy trends by the International Energy Agency points out China, the world's largest auto market and most populous country, went from having four cars per 1,000 people in 2000 to 40 per 1,000 in 2010, MSNBC reported.


China has about 60 million vehicles now, but in 23 years the prediction is it will have 400 million -- 310 motor vehicles per 1,000 people -- still less than half the 660 vehicles per 1,000 population currently on U.S. roads, but there are a lot more Chinese (1.3 billion) than Americans and Europeans.

In 2025, the report forecasts China will have more cars and trucks than the United States or the European Union. The number of motor vehicles in India is predicted to leap from 14 million passenger cars in 2011 to about 160 million by 2035.

Needless to say world demand for oil will skyrocket -- and so could global pollution and climate change -- unless a substantial number of those new vehicles are powered by electricity and alternative fuels.

Unfortunately, IEA foresees only 4 percent of those millions of new cars being plug-in and all-electric vehicles and just 3 percent powered by compressed natural gas. About 20 percent will be gas-electric hybrids and the other nearly three-quarters will have gasoline or diesel-burning internal combustion engines.

IEA also predicted by 2035 nearly 90 percent of all the oil produced in the Middle East would go to Asia, with China, India and the Mideast accounting for 60 percent of the expected growth in global energy demand.


China is expected to build 10 million miles of new paved lanes by 2035 to add to its 28 million miles of paved roads.

The agency said because of new technologies the United States will become a net exporter of energy around 2030 and will be close to energy self-sufficiency five years later thanks to advanced oil recovery techniques, shale natural gas and bio-fuel production augmented by increased use of renewables like solar and wind power.

"No country is an energy 'island,' and the interactions between different fuels, markets and prices are intensifying," the report's executive summary concludes.

The report predicts U.S corporate average fuel economy standards which are set to reach 54.5 mpg in 2025 will top 60 mpg by 2035.

Mazda teams up with Toyota on a subcompact

Japan's Mazda Motor Corp. is joining forces with giant Toyota to build a Toyota-branded subcompact car at a new plant in Mexico.

The unnamed subcompact, based on the Mazda2, would be mostly for the North American market, The Detroit News said. The new car would compete with the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic and account for about 25 percent of the annual capacity of the plant's production of 140,000 vehicles a year.


Mazda3 Axela compacts and Mazda2 Demio subcompacts would also roll off the assembly line.

Toyota's current subcompact entry, the Yaris, is made in Japan, making it subject to currency fluctuations from the strong yen.

The Wall Street Journal said Toyota will invest in production equipment and provide some development funds to boost capacity at the plant, which will start producing vehicles in mid-2015.

The world's largest automaker has 14 North American assembly and components facilities and makes Camry sedans in Georgetown, Ky., and at a Subaru plant in Indiana.

"Through the agreement, TMC [Toyota Motor Corp.] aims to strengthen its North American vehicle lineup while Mazda aims to increase production efficiency and contribute to its profitability," the companies said in a statement.

Obama thanks UAW

Two days after his re-election victory, President Obama called UAW President Bob King to personally thank the autoworkers union for its support.

"The president expressed how deeply he appreciates the UAW and our membership and expressed 'that we could not have done without the UAW and its membership,'" said King's note to union members obtained by The Ann Arbor (Mich.) News.

UAW support was viewed as key in getting white, blue-collar workers to turn out for the president in Ohio where the 2008-09 auto industry bailout saved thousands of good-paying jobs.


Republican challenger Mitt Romney had been highly critical of the $85 billion General Motors Co. and $12.5 billion Chrysler Group auto bailouts.

Exit polls conducted by CNN on Election Day indicated 59 percent of Ohio voters expressed approval of the federal bailout of the auto companies and that Obama won the majority of those voters.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury -- which still owns 500 million shares in GM -- lowered its forecast of losses on the bailout to $24.3 billion, down $750 million from its August forecast, The Detroit News reported.

"As we've said before, we believe the company's made real progress, but we don't think that the market has given the company as much credit as it might," a Treasury statement said of GM.

Chrysler finished repaying all of its government-backed loans last year and its bailout cost about $1.3 billion, the News said.

GM offers discounts to military vets

General Motors has expanded discounts to new vehicles purchased by recent military veterans.

Previously, the company offered a military discount only to active duty service members, reservists, retired service members and their spouses.

Newly discharged service members that leave the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard within a year will qualify for vehicle discounts that range to as much as $3,770 on a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup, the Detroit Free Press said.


"We wanted to accommodate the large numbers of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and the impending draw down of service members from all branches, GM's marketing manager for vehicle purchase programs said in a statement.

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