Briefing Paper

Project: International Economics Department

Matteo Ferrazzi and Andrea Goldstein
  • The car industry remains one of the cornerstones of global manufacturing, not only in terms of turnover, employment and trade, but also for its crucial role in introducing new technologies and organizational methods. The crisis has not led to a complete redrawing of the automotive industry landscape, but simply accelerated some of the trends already in motion.

  • The location of production has changed dramatically in recent years. In 2009, for the first time, more cars were produced in emerging markets than in the United States, Europe and Japan combined, and China overtook Japan as the largest producer and one year later it produced twice as many vehicles as Japan. BRIC countries now produce one car out of three.

  • It is not easy to distinguish between demand and supply shifts; capacity may move to emerging economies because production there is cheaper and more efficient and/or because demand growth is brisker.

  • The global economic crisis has magnified pre-existing challenges, accelerated the rebalancing of global economic activity between industrial and emerging economies and forced car manufacturers to take emergency measures to rescue their businesses.

  • The industry will continue to be global, with new players (especially from China and India) not only increasing their share of fast-growing emerging markets, but also gradually becoming capable of challenging the incumbents in Western markets.