Global car production may reach 80 million units in 2012 image

Worldwide production of passenger vehicles may reach 80 million vehicles this year, which would be an all-time record for the automotive industry.

In 2010, global production of cars and light trucks was of 74.4 million units, while in 2011 it rose to 76.8 million units, according to environmental research body Worldwatch Institute.

More than half of the global output comes from the top four producers of light vehicles – China, U.S., Japan and Germany. The major drivers of increased production are emerging economies, especially China, said report author and Worldwatch senior researcher Michael Renner.

In 2011, an estimated 691-million passenger cars were on the world’s roads (979-million vehicles if light- and heavy-duty trucks are included), 30 million more than in 2010. By the end of this year, the global fleet could top a billion vehicles – one for every seven people on the planet.

However, electric vehicle production remains at very low levels, said Renner. Although some countries have set targets for future EV fleets, it remains to be seen whether these goals can be met, he added.

“Automobiles are major contributors to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Greater fuel efficiency, along with the use of cleaner fuels, can help mitigate these impacts, although increases in the numbers of cars and the distances driven threaten to overwhelm fuel economy advances,” Renner said.