Ihs Markit 1.3mtrudellbloomberg – In the last quarter of 2017, carmakers produced about 1.3 million fewer vehicles than if it had continued at the same rate as in 2016. The production slump was primarily due to production disruptions caused by global shortages of crucial raw materials such as metal, silicon and memory chips. Visa, Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs economists believe that manufacturers will have to spend billions on inventories this year, which explains why there is a double-digit price increase for cars.
If carmakers are forced to spend billions on inventories this year, then it will take a long time for supply to catch up with demand. The current shortage of silicon chips may run its course in the first half of 2018, but the lack of metal and memory chips will not be cleared up until the second half. Meanwhile, global and regional oversupply will remain, with China being an important source of excess production capacity.
This brings us to the second reason why carmakers are likely to have to raise prices. According to the IHS Markit forecasts, the price of aluminum is expected to rise by about 30% this year because of increased Chinese production and global supply losses. This will increase costs for carmakers in terms of both raw material procurement and manufacturing costs. The concern is that consumers are delaying purchases until inventory levels reach a more normal range.
The price increase of raw materials is not the only factor that will push prices higher. According to IHS Markit, the price of a new pickup truck in North America has risen by over 30% just in the last 12 months. This was due to a shortage of key components such as aluminum and steel, which were partly due to rising demand for new energy vehicles (NEVs). The lack of capacity utilization for cars in 2018 will be another reason for carmakers to increase prices.
In general, the IHS Markit forecasts for 2017 are in line with expectations. Global passenger car production is expected to rise by 1% in 2017 to 92.6 million cars, compared with 92.4 million cars in 2016, which was an all-time high. Global car sales should grow by about 2% this year to total more than 95 million cars, which is similar to the growth rate of 2016 (2.1%).
Global production growth will be driven primarily by North America and Asia Pacific. However, since carmakers will have to put more funds into inventory in 2018, this means that car sales growth is likely to be limited. The IHS Markit forecasts for 2018 are slightly lower than those of 2016 and 2017. Car sales are expected to slow down by 2% at 96.7 million cars in 2018, which is 488,000 more cars than in 2017.