UPDATE 1-AT Kearney sees 11.7 million U.S. 2010 auto sales

* Kearney sees 2010 U.S. auto sales 11.7 mln units

* U.S. sales at 14.4 mln in 2011, and 16.1 mln in 2012

* Wave of automaker alliances to occur by 2015

(Adds quotes, main points of Kearney’s presentation in
Birmingham, byline)

By Bernie Woodall

BIRMINGHAM, Michigan, May 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Consultancy A.T.
Kearney expects 2010 U.S. auto sales to rise to 11.7 million
light vehicles and that a general recovery from the recession
will bring sales back to historical levels in 2012.

Analyst Daniel Cheng of Kearney said the range from a
“pessimistic” to an “optimistic” forecast for 2010 is 11.4
million to 12.3 million autos sold.

By 2012, U.S. auto sales will rise to about 16 million
vehicles, with a possible range of 12.9 million vehicles to
16.8 million vehicles.

Cheng said much of the rise will be attributed to pent-up
demand and more available credit, and the forecast also assumes
the United States will not have a double-dip recession. He said
he does not expect another recession.

Auto sales held above 16 million vehicles between 1999 and
2007 before falling to 13.2 million in 2008 and to 10.4 million
in 2009, the lowest rate since World War II once population is
considered.

The forecast is more bullish than those of most other auto
analyst groups and the automakers themselves, but Cheng
defended the forecast

“If you look at the 1980s and the recovery from the low
point then, the steepness of the return is much like our
forecast,” Cheng said.

Cheng and his fellow analyst at Kearney, Matt Cheng, said
pent-up demand will send now-reluctant buyers to the market and
will mean U.S. new car sales will rise, even if credit for
subprime car buyers does not get easier. The two Kearney
analysts are not related.

Matt Cheng said the average age of U.S. vehicles is about
9.9 years, which will increase to around 10.1 years by 2011
before falling as more cars are scrapped and newer vehicles
bought.

From 2007 to the end of this year, pent-up demand for 19.6
million new vehicles as accumulated, Daniel Cheng said. Some 47
percent of that demand will return to the new vehicle market
starting in 2011.

In past recoveries, 65 percent of the pent-up demand
returns to the new vehicle market, but Kearney forecasts that
limits on credit will cut that to 47 percent.

GLOBAL PLATFORMS TO RESHAPE INDUSTRY

Daniel Cheng said the ongoing shift toward building
vehicles on shared global platforms will continue and will
reshape the auto industry.

Some 38 percent of the world’s cars will be made on the
top-selling production platforms by 2015, up from 13 percent
today and 10 percent in 2000, Daniel Cheng said.

This shift will force automakers into more alliances such
as the one that was created between Nissan Motor Co Ltd
(7201.T: ) and Renault SA (RENA.PA: ), in order to compete, he
said, adding that alliances between automakers are more likely
than mergers in the coming years.

“The cost savings advantage of operating on global
platforms will be a key factor in another wave of global
mergers and alliances,” said Daniel Cheng.

An automaker that can make 1 million vehicles on the same
platform can save $700 per vehicle compared with a production
platform that makes 400,000 units per year, Matt Cheng said.

Now, eight automakers have 12 platforms on which at least 1
million vehicles are made annually. By 2015, said Daniel Cheng,
10 different automakers will have 20 platforms on which at
least 1 million vehicles are made.

The leading single platform in the world is the Toyota
Motor Corp (7203.T: ) Camry at 2.8 million vehicles. Second is
the Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: ) Elantra and then two
Nissan-Renault platforms, the Clio and the Sentra.

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(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Andre Grenon)

UPDATE 1-AT Kearney sees 11.7 million U.S. 2010 auto sales