Light-vehicle sales are on track to rise to a record 97.3 million units this year, despite a second straight annual decline in North America, according to an LMC Automotive forecast.
LMC projects sales of cars and light trucks will grow in every other region, resulting in a 2.1 percent increase in global demand.
The biggest percentage gains are expected in South America and Central and Eastern Europe, while larger markets -- China, the rest of Asia and Western Europe -- are projected to show more modest gains.
The projected 1 percent decline in North American sales could shift for the better or the worse, said Pete Kelly, an LMC managing director.
A breakdown of the North American Free Trade Agreement would probably raise vehicle prices and reduce demand, while accelerating economic growth could spur a surprise sales increase.
"That could go either way," Kelly said during a webinar presenting the forecast. "Perhaps if we did see a bit more strength in the economy, that negative 1 percent could disappear, and it could be flat or slightly up. But at the moment, we're assuming it will be down a little."