The sales collapse that started late last year will accelerate in 2009, leading to fewer carmakers and more factory closures, industry watchers say.
New-car sales in western Europe will fall by 15 percent or 2.1 million unit this year to 13.5 million, investment bankers Goldman Sachs said December 17.
With an average car plant producing about 300,000 units a year, the decline is the same as the output of seven factories.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said last month that sales will drop in 2009 at double-digit rates, similar to those seen in the final quarter of the 2008.
All of Europe and all carmakers will be impacted, Ghosn said in a conference call.
Ford of Europes sales and marketing head Ingvar Sviggum also said the 2009 market may be as weak as the last quarter of 2008.
The sales collapse could lead to mergers and create a very different industry, said Walt Madeira, CSM Worldwides UK-based manager of European vehicle sales forecasts.