The annual Geneva Motor Show got underway on Tuesday against a backdrop of a global automobile sector crisis as the financial crisis saps consumer confidence and demand for new cars plunges.
Below are comments from auto executives at the show on their perspectives for key markets and the effectiveness of government measures designed to jump-start sales, as they attempt to assess how much further the car market deteriorates before it reaches a low point.
NISSAN MOTOR CO
Executive Vice President Carlos Tavares, assigned last month to head the Americas region, traditionally Nissan's biggest source of profits, said until demand returned to normal levels, the main task would be slashing costs and controlling inventories.
We would like to see the bottom (of the U.S. market), but so far it's not visible yet ... Once we see three to four months of stabilisation we could say we have hit bottom.
Fiat Auto Chief Executive Lorenzo Sistino said he expected March sales in Italy to be in line or slightly better than last year, thanks to incentives.
Renault Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata said the group is already feeling the benefits of a trade-in incentive introduced by the German government. In Germany, the group is seeing enormous growth - the problem is delivering Clios, Twingos, Sanderos and Meganes.
Citroen's head of international operations, Jean-Louis Chamla, said the carmaker -- part of French group PSA Peugeot Citroen -- saw a 2009 market of around 2 million vehicles in Russia, where sales have fallen sharply. I don't think it's finished -- the market could be even worse than we're saying today.
Chamla said he expected the Chinese market to grow by around 5 percent in 2009.
MAZDA MOTOR CORP
Mazda Motor Europe Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Guyton said it aimed to defend its share of a sinking European market and warned the second half of 2009 would probably be tougher than the first.
As long as consumers have as much uncertainty about jobs and prices as they do now, they are not going to be buying cars.
TOYOTA MOTOR CORP
Toyota Motor Europe Executive Vice President Thierry Dombreval said the unit wanted to boost its European market share to 6 percent in 2009 from 5.3 percent last year. Dombreval said he expected sales to fall by about one-quarter in Western Europe and as much as 40 percent elsewhere such as Russia.
We have more bad news coming (in the second half of 2009).