The annual "Car Wars" report by Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy predicts that, despite their seizing of U.S. market share over the last few tumultuous years, Korean brands Hyundai and Kia will give it all back and then some to companies like Ford, General Motors and Toyota by 2016.
Murphy bases his predictions not on tea leaves or crystal balls, but rather the rate at which automakers launch new products. Ford will replace 26 percent of its product line over the next four years, a number that represents 46 percent of its volume, while General Motors will replace 25 percent and Toyota 24 percent. On account of these new product launches, Murphy says Ford can expect to add 0.8 percentage points of market share, General Motors will recover 0.5 points and Toyota will add another 0.3 points.
Other automakers that won't be so aggressive in turning over their lineups with new models include Chrysler, Honda, Nissan and the European brands, which Murphy surmises will all remain flat in terms of market share.
Hyundai and Kia, meanwhile, will be introducing fewer new models than the rest and therefore, Murphy predicts, will see a 0.5 decline in U.S. market share.
Of course, these are all just predictions and can be blown to bits with the next unforeseen economic crisis or natural disaster, just like the last three years were. And there are other factors that might affect market share for each automaker during the next three years, including the availability of raw materials, exchange rates, union contracts, recalls and a million another minor things that might grow to become big things, not the least of which is consumers deciding they actually like all those new products being launched.