Industry expert Garel Rhys has predicted that the 500,000 rise in the car market will be reflected by an increase in the size of the car parc in the UK to 30 million vehicles or more – currently there are 29 million.
Rhys, who holds the Society of Motor Manufacturers' and Traders' chair in motor industry economics in the Cardiff Business School, University of Wales, said it was part of a global rise in car sales.
He told the Fleet News Europe Conference: 'In the past 110-year history of the automotive industry there have been 1.8 billion vehicles made already.
'But in the next 20 years, there will be another 1.8 billion made, matching that historic production.
'That will need new plants and place a tremendous demand on resources and on the world's financial sector for some $80 trillion.'
Rhys, who chaired the conference, held in association with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and sponsored by BCA Europe, said that while there was a growth in sales, the car market would be as fragmented as ever, with each manufacturer brand retaining a relatively small share of each market, meaning they had to fight hard for business.
He said: 'The market trends show an industry in turmoil as Renault is currently the only manufacturer to hold a 10% market share in Europe. That fragmentation in the marketplace will continue to increase.'
Rhys also put the spotlight on China, where he said the vehicle market was set for massive growth among its population of more than one billion.
He said: 'Every six years for the past 20 years, the size of the Chinese economy has doubled. For example, it uses more concrete than the rest of the world put together.'
He suggested that when China matches European levels of car use, with one vehicle for every two people, there would be about 780 million cars in China, compared to 191 million in Europe and 137 million in the US today.
Rhys added: 'To cope with that growth, a hydrogen society will be needed and the Chinese market may even claim the high ground in the drive to low carbon vehicles by 2040, in time for the car parc reaching 780 million, which could be by 2060.'
Rhys's comments at the event, which attracted more than 120 delegates and exhibitors including Bynx, cfc Solutions, Chevin Fleet Solutions and BCA Europe, came as car manufacturers prepared for the new 04 registration in March, traditionally one of the biggest car sales months of the year.