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A New World Record: 80 Million Vehicles... and Counting

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In a world of large numbers, try wrapping your head around these digits: This year, the world is expected to set a new record with the sale of 80 million cars and trucks.

Let me put that into perspective:

- Annual sales: 80 million

- Daily sales: 219,178

- Sales per hour: 9,132

- Sales per minute: 152

So by the time you're done reading this, the world will have added another 300-500 vehicles.

Some of you will read that and say, "So what? More countries (like China) are growing more prosperous, it's only natural we would see more cars and trucks."

But when I see that number (issued by Ford CEO Alan Mulally at Ford's annual meeting), I see it as just the start. Over the next 5 years, the global sales of vehicles will race past 100 million.

Why? Look at the fastest growing markets and their expected annual sales by the end of this decade, according to IHS Automotive:

- China: 30 million vehicles

- India: 7 million vehicles

- Russia: 4 million vehicles

(The U.S. is expected to plateau and be at 17 million in annual sales by 2020.)

All of this explains why automakers are aggressively adding capacity and new plants around the world. Not only is it to keep up with the expected surge in demand, but because the global auto business is increasingly being defined by size and scale: those who have it (VW, GM and Toyota, among others) and those who want more (Fiat/Chrysler, Peugeot among others).

The world's roads and highways are getting more crowded (drive through some cities in India as I have, and you'll see for yourself) and the traffic jams are just beginning.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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