ROME (Reuters) -- European new-car sales next year will remain more or less at their 2012 level, the head of Italian carmakers' association ANFIA said on Wednesday.
"I do not see the car sales situation changing much next year," ANFIA chairman Roberto Vavassori said when asked for a market forecast. "That is the trend. In Italy, I think we could see a small contraction."
Automakers are facing a sustained slump in the European market against the backdrop of the euro zone debt crisis and government austerity measures.
Car sales in EU and EFTA markets fell 6.9 percent to 10.7 million vehicles in the first 10 months, according to data from Brussels-based industry group ACEA, led by double-digit declines in crisis-hit Greece, Italy and Portugal.
New-car sales in Italy plunged 20.1 percent last month to 106,491 vehicles, the transport ministry said on Dec. 3.
Italian sales slump 'underestimated'
On Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said that the drop in Italian deliveries -- which in the month of October fell to their lowest since 1977 -- has been underestimated for too long and that it must be turned around.
"The decline of the car sector in the European and Italian markets is well known," Monti said at a conference of the country's car making lobby in Rome.
"Italian industry in particular has suffered for some time in this situation in which the car sector has slowly but surely become less competitive, but [the decline] has been underestimated," Monti said.