MUNICH -- Auto industry executives are still upbeat about China, but their enthusiasm for the other BRIC countries has waned.
New markets are in demand -- and are being discovered -- such as Southeast Asia.
Stefan Wolf, CEO of German parts maker ElringKlinger, sums up the situation: "You can delete the letters B, R and I from the once highly praised BRIC nations. Only the C is left. By contrast, the ASEAN zone offers strong sales potential for the vehicle industry."
The B, R and I stand for Brazil, Russia and India. ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a political and economic organization of 10 countries.
Raphael Berthoud, who is responsible for India and Thailand at Faurecia Interior Systems, stresses that "Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, is a major growth market for the automotive industry."
Japanese automakers have long had a presence in the region, which has about 600 million inhabitants, but Ford and General Motors have settled into Rayong, Thailand, as well, Berthoud said.
In addition, Volkswagen assembles vehicles from kits in Malaysia with partner DRB-Hicom.
Rudi von Meister, president for the Asia-Pacific region of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, emphasizes that "many of the next 15 countries with up-and-coming economies are located in Southeast Asia."
ZF has been active in a number of these "BRIC successor states," in some cases for years.
Ralf Dieter, CEO of Duerr AG, also has confidence in Southeast Asia.
"Experts expect vehicle production in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to rise about 40 percent by 2018," he said. "In the course of this growth, international automakers will expand their production capacity in the region."