China is set to surpass Europe in car making this year, speeding past another milestone in the rise of the country’s auto industry. The forecast comes from the Financial Times which commissioned five market research companies to project 2013 production numbers. Their consensus estimate is that China will make 19.6 million cars against Europe’s 18.3 million. The U.S and Japan, the next two largest car manufacturers produce 8 million-9 million vehicles a year.
The numbers represent a 10% increase in China’s production and a slight fall in Europe’s. China’s production growth is expected to easily outstrip that for the $1.3 trillion (sales) global industry as a whole of 2.2%, itself slower than 2012’s 4.9% growth. Since 2000 car production in China has grown ten fold, on the back of strongly growing and government-supported domestic market, now the world’s largest. China’s carmakers then made barely one in every 27 cars manufactured worldwide. This year, on the basis of these forecasts, they will make better than one in five.
Their next challenge is to move up the product line value chain and establish international auto brands. There is no Chinese manufacturer in the top 15 of the world’s car makers ranked by global production volume, though China’s top three, Dongfeng Motor, Geely and Beijing Automotive would make the top 20. There is one other big challenge, too, to make a decent profit from it all.