U.S. auto sales will increase but stay below 16 million annual deliveries — a target hit from 1999 through 2007 — through 2015, according to a new report from AlixPartners LLC. Why? Blame factors like lingering unemployment, which has been over 8% seasonally adjusted since January 2009, and rising overhead costs to build cars. But the most interesting shift is demographic: AlixPartners says Baby Boomers "simply have less reason to drive," and young people care less about cars. We've reported on the latter trend before, but AlixPartners says less driving among Boomers contributes to 13% of the slack in future demand. The firm suggests automakers make "aggressive, well-informed investments" in better cars and trucks and expect the economy to generate little tailwind. Global "mega-platforms" that are used on numerous cars — think Ford's C-platform, which underpins cars like the Focus, Escape and C-Max — will proliferate.
In other news:
- Toyota will supply BMW with hydrogen fuel cells and hybrid technology, Japan's Nikkei News reports via Automotive News.
- Fans of Mazda's RX sports cars should take a moment of silence. After 45 years of production, the Japanese automaker will build its last rotary engine — an RX staple — this month, The Detroit News reports.
- Nissan paid CEO Carlos Ghosn some $12 million at current exchange rates last year, Bloomberg News reports. That's more than seven times what rivals Toyota and Honda paid their CEOs, but far less than what Ford paid CEO Alan Mulally.
- Honda overtook Toyota to become the top non-luxury brand in overall consumer perception, according to a brand equity study by Harris Interactive.