Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross said yesterday that the U.S. economy is nowhere near a full recovery and forecast 2010 as a year of moderate growth for the nation’s automotive industry sales.

Ross also said he believed that automakers General Motors and Chrysler both were on the path toward survival after undergoing their government-supported bankruptcy reorganizations in 2009.

“I don’t think we are in anything like a full recovery,” Ross said in an interview with Reuters Insider on the sidelines of the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. “Consumer balance sheets still need to be repaired.”


Ross, chairman of the International Automotive Components Group auto interiors supplier, said he expects U.S. sales to grow by up to 1.5 million units in 2010 from the roughly 10.4 million vehicles that were sold last year.

Those sales would still be below the rate at which old vehicles are consigned to the scrap heap, which Ross believes is in the 12.5 million to 13.2 million unit range. He believes that U.S. sales of 13.5 million is achievable in 2011.

“2011 will be the big year for cars, not 2010,” Ross said.

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