WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA-- Global new light-vehicle sales this year are projected to reach 76.5 million units in 2011, which would surpass the record of 72 million light vehicles sold 2010, according to J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting.

If new light-vehicle sales reach their expected levels, this would be 6% higher than the 2010 total, which shattered the previous record of 70 million units set in 2007.

"Overall growth in the world economy has been supporting further recovery in auto sales," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. "We're seeing signals of stability and increased consumer demand for new vehicles as economic optimism increases." .

Most regions saw sales growth in 2010, including North America, South America and Asia, with China being a key to growth for that continent. Western Europe was the notable exception to the growth pattern, as its sales suffered when the government-sponsored vehicle-scrappage programs expired in 2010. .

Also, for the first time in 2010, emerging auto markets accounted for more than one-half of global light-vehicle sales (51%), clearly signaling the shift of power in the global automotive market that has been taking place during the past five years. That momentum in the emerging markets is expected to continue throughout 2011.