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Capacity Needs in the Automobile Industry in the Short- to Medium Run


  • Caroline Klein


  • Isabell Koske



This paper aims at identifying which countries and regions in the world might face structural overcapacities or capacity shortfalls in the automobile industry in the near future. It discusses the main forces that are likely to shape car demand over the next several years, including GDP growth, oil prices and competitiveness. It also presents projections for car sales and production in 56 OECD and non-OECD countries, distinguishing between temporary developments related to the cycle and more persistent patterns. The paper shows that most countries might need to build capacity in the medium run, with major differences across regions though. A comparison of projected production levels in 2020 (between 125 and 130 million cars worldwide) with actual capacity in 2012 indicates that additional production capacity of around 35 to 40 million cars needs to be built over the next eight years. The countries with the biggest projected need to expand capacity over the projection period are India and China. While car demand may be sufficient to clear excess capacities in Europe as a whole in the medium run, overcapacity may persist in a few countries, in particular Italy and France. Reducing overcapacity in these countries might be difficult without substantial improvements in competitiveness. Besoin de capacités dans l'industrie automobile à court et moyen terme Ce document vise à identifier les pays dans lesquels des surplus ou des besoins de capacité dans le secteur automobile pourraient se matérialiser dans un avenir proche. Il discute les principales forces qui sont susceptibles d’influencer la demande de voitures au cours des prochaines années, notamment la croissance du PIB, les prix du pétrole et la compétitivité. Il présente également des projections pour les ventes et la production automobiles dans 56 pays de l'OCDE et non-OCDE, en distinguant les évolutions temporaires liées au cycle et les tendances plus persistantes. L'étude montre que la plupart des pays de l'OCDE pourraient avoir besoin de renforcer leurs capacités à moyen terme, avec toutefois d’importantes différences entre les régions. Une comparaison des niveaux de production projetés en 2020 (entre 125 et 130 millions de voitures dans le monde) avec la capacité observée en 2012 indique que les capacités de production devraient être accrues d'environ 35 à 40 millions au cours des huit prochaines années. Les pays ayant les plus grands besoins d’expansion sur la période de projection sont l'Inde et la Chine. Alors qu’à moyen terme la demande automobile pourrait suffire à absorber les capacités excédentaires de l’Europe dans son ensemble, des problèmes de surcapacité pourraient persister dans quelques pays, en particulier en Italie et en France. Réduire les surcapacités dans ces pays pourrait être difficile sans amélioration substantielle de la compétitivité.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Klein & Isabell Koske, 2013. "Capacity Needs in the Automobile Industry in the Short- to Medium Run," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1097, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1097-en

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    More about this item


    automobile industry; car sales; industrie automobile; medium-run projections; overcapacity; projections de moyen terme; surcapacité; ventes de voitures;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment

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