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Analysts envision ‘Peak Car’ within a decade, signaling changes for auto industry

China helped increase global auto sales by 46 percent since 2000, but it is also dealing with urban gridlock and pollution.
China helped increase global auto sales by 46 percent since 2000, but it is also dealing with urban gridlock and pollution.Brent Lewin/Bloomberg News

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The world Henry Ford put on wheels is poised to stall.

Several auto industry analysts are predicting ‘‘Peak Car’’ — the point at which annual global sales growth will top out — in the next decade. IHS Automotive, for one, sees sales cresting at 100 million within that time.

Pollution and gridlock are putting a damper on driving in the globe’s growing megacities. More young Americans are opting for public transport, bicycles, and vehicle-sharing. Cars are lasting longer. All of that may herald a new era.

Peak Car is at odds with the ambitious expansion plans of automakers. IHS says they are gearing up to produce more than 120 million vehicles by 2016, almost 50 percent more than last year’s worldwide sales mark of 82 million.

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