General Motors economist: 2016 auto sales will break records


By John Bush - [email protected]



Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors, speaks at the fourth-annual Regional Auto Growth Summit on Friday at Apollo Career Center.


John Bush | The Lima News

LIMA — Auto industry officials expect the U.S. economy will continue to grow at a modest pace, with auto sales remaining at a record high in 2016.

Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors, made this point during the fourth-annual Regional Auto Growth Summit, held Friday morning at Apollo Career Center. The summit is held each year to help foster growth of the regional auto industry by sharing expertise and resources.

Speaking to the region’s business and community leaders , Mohatarem seemed mostly optimistic about the U.S. auto industry.

“The U.S. is an island of stability in a turbulent world,” Mohatarem told the crowd, noting that auto sales experienced an all-time record in 2015.

Mohatarem, who heads the Corporate Economics Team at GM, added that long-term demand for vehicles remains “very promising,” despite the influx of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. In fact, he said the new transportation services provide an opportunity the auto industry should be able to capitalize on.

“New mobility opportunities such as ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles will increase demand for trips by providing mobility to those who are restricted otherwise,” he said, “and, therefore, presents a new opportunity to the industry.”

Mohatarem said the ride-sharing industry will lead to more miles traveled, with more personal vehicles on the road instead of mass transit. He added that he believes people will still keep their cars, as personal mobility is important for people who want to be able to drive wherever they want, whenever they want.

“If you wanted to get into your car and drive to say, Dayton, that would be a pretty expensive trip using something like Lyft,” he said. “People aren’t giving up on personal mobility, so I don’t think it’s an issue.”

While he said autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are gaining notoriety, Mohatarem believes enhanced safety features that are being equipped in all new cars will keep people buying automobiles.

“It’s the sensors, the cameras, all those things make it safer for younger and older people to keep driving,” he said.

Contrary to popular belief, Mohatarem said young people are still buying vehicles. Data from General Motors revealed the share of vehicle sales increased nearly 5 percent among drivers under 35 years old from 2010 to 2015.

“They are coming to the market as a major group of buyers,” he said.

Mohatarem also pointed out that gasoline prices dropped 28 percent in 2015, and interest rates are at historical lows. He said these developments have created “the perfect environment for the auto industry,” and led to a record 17.9 million vehicles sold in 2015.

“In the longer term, vehicle demand will remain healthy as population grows and vehicle ownership rate recovers,” he said. “We expect 2016 will be another record year.”

Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors, speaks at the fourth-annual Regional Auto Growth Summit on Friday at Apollo Career Center.
http://limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_auto-summit.jpgMustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors, speaks at the fourth-annual Regional Auto Growth Summit on Friday at Apollo Career Center. John Bush | The Lima News

By John Bush

[email protected]

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima

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