The global car market should grow four percent this year although Europe will lag behind because of the debt crisis, the German automaker federation said March 5.
Despite "headwinds" in the world economy, "the global automotive market remains on course for growth," VDA president Matthias Wissmann said at a news conference on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show opening.
"Overall, we expect 2012 to bring four percent expansion on the world-wide passenger car market," he added.
"We cannot simply maintain the high rates of growth from 2011 in the same form," he was quoted as saying in a VDA statement.
"We have reduced our speed somewhat, but we are keeping it relatively high."
VDA expects the US market to remain dynamic after two years of double-digit growth, racking up an eight percent gain to 13.7 million light vehicles in 2012.
It said China will also post strong growth of eight percent to 13.1 million vehicles.
In Japan, where car sales last year were hit by the earthquake and nuclear disaster, the market should rebound by 17 percent to 4.1 million units.
Western Europe is the dark cloud on the horizon.
"As a result of the public debt crisis in some EU countries, passenger car sales in Western Europe this year will, in all probability, decrease by as much as five percent, to 12.1 million units," said Wissmann.
He said German car manufacturers should be able to weather the regional downturn, noting that seven out of ten passenger cars exported in Germany are bound for non-eurozone markets.
They also hold 80 percent of the global market share in the highly profitable premium segment, he noted.
Copyright 2012, Agence France-Presse