NEW YORK (AP) -- Auto consulting company CSM Worldwide said Monday it expects global vehicle sales to continue falling in 2009, but predicted a recovery in 2010 as credit frees up and skittish consumers re-enter the market.
The Northville, Mich., firm projected 2009 global sales would fall about 8 percent to 56.8 million units. However, CSM forecast 2010 sales would rise nearly 7 percent to 60.8 million units.
CSM said it expects 2009 sales in the U.S. to hit a 27-year low of 11.5 million, then rebound to 13.6 million in 2010.
Auto sales globally have fallen rapidly in recent months, and the decline has been even sharper in the U.S., where the toxic combination of tight credit markets, volatile fuel prices and declining consumer confidence has depressed demand for new cars.
Last week, automakers reported 2008 sales fell to 13.2 million units, down from 16.1 million in 2007. Sales fell 36 percent in December alone.
"For 2009, the global automotive market has fallen back to sales levels of 2004, but the industry has added more than 19 million units of production capacity since then, setting the stage for the devastating situation that (automakers) and suppliers are facing today," CSM wrote in a research report.
CSM's new outlook comes as automakers are gathering in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. The companies' focus has been on greener, more fuel-efficient cars, as they seek to outdo each other in wooing more eco-conscious consumers.