The automotive industry in the United States: Accelerating safely?

The rescue of the American automobile industry, with a cost of $ 80.000 billion and large-scale layoffs, has traumatized the United States. Their automakers are rebuilding their competitiveness and to benefit from the recovery of economic growth (2.9% expected in 2015). The industry has recovered and demand is being driven in part by better access to credit, but at what price? In 2015 [1], Coface expects an increase in sales of 3.8%, with a sustained level of growth, although well below the level of previous years.

A recovery supported by domestic consumption, and more recently by increased investment

After a slump of 35% at the time of the crisis, car sales in the United States in 2014 returned to the levels of 2007. The recent fall in oil prices (48% in 2014) has undoubtedly contributed. But the recovery of this sector hard-hit by the crisis, is also being driven by two key factors.

The first is that the recovery of the US economy has meant that households can benefit from a very low interest rates: ease of access to credit has strengthened its purchasing power and allow them to replace their vehicles. This improvement in the quality of life is also motivated by a faster increase in wages than price. With the decline in unemployment levels, companies are increasing the salaries of skilled workers. All this is helping to increase the level of confidence that American households have on the economy.

The second factor is that the positive economic situation is encouraging companies in the sector to move production to the country. Investments to increase automation in the production process reduce the relationship between labor costs and location. As a result, with few exceptions, all major automakers and equipment manufacturers in the world are located now the United States. The public authorities have given an important boost to the sector, maintaining a monetary policy of low interest rates and implementing policies to support "scrapping program" and financial support to the two largest US automakers (an injection of nearly 80,000 million GM and Chrysler dollars).