Economic growth in Europe will reach its highest level since 1991 this year - but the increase in new-car sales is likely to be disappointing in comparison, according to an Automotive News Europe survey of five leading forecasting bodies.
Both gross domestic product (GDP) and private consumption in Europe are expected to grow by more than 3 percent in 2000 - but the consensus of the five forecasting institutes is that the new-car market will grow by just 1.6 percent.
The reason? Weak sales in Germany this year have held the European market back. And there are concerns that other European markets may be slowing.
'We have a boom with a hole in the middle,' said Arthur Maher at J.D. Power-LMC in Oxford, England.
New-car sales in western European countries outside Germany were up 5.9 percent in the first six months of 2000. But they were down 11 percent in Germany - the region's biggest market. Ulrich Winzen, of Essen-based Marketing Systems, said high fuel prices and an unexciting model year were factors in the weakness of the German market.
At the end of last year, Marketing Systems forecasted a fall in German sales of 2.1 percent in 2000. Winzen is now forecasting a drop of 6.9 percent this year.
The average 2001 growth predictions of the five forecasters is 0.4 percent in Europe. However, Marketing Systems and Standard & Poor's DRI expect a slight fall.