De Waard also warned in his essay that overcapacity in Europe persists. "With overproduction in Europe when the market was at 18 million units, there is a good case to argue that the industry still has overcapacity on the continent," he wrote.

De Waard also warned in his essay that overcapacity in Europe persists. "With overproduction in Europe when the market was at 18 million units, there is a good case to argue that the industry still has overcapacity on the continent," he wrote.

Ford of Europe's marketing head has said that changing demographics and continuing weak economies mean that for many years to come, European carmakers will be faced with a European car market almost a fifth below pre-crisis norms.

Roelant de Waard, VP of Marketing and Sales for Ford of Europe, outlined what he termed "Europe's new reality" and Ford's response to it in an article for investor magazine Seeking Alpha.

He wrote: "It is very clear that it will take a long time for the European new vehicle market to recover to pre-crisis levels, if at all.

"Changing demographics and continuing weak economies - especially in Southern Europe - for many years to come might mean that an annual market of more than 18 million sales no longer is feasible in the traditional European markets."

De Waard noted that recent market decline has taken its toll mainly in the older, more established markets of Western Europe, with countries such as Italy, Spain and France seeing significant reductions in total vehicle sales. However, he said that Ford has seen sales growth in Russia, Turkey and Eastern Europe and that these markets presents a significant opportunity for profitability, with sales growth in a 'greater Europe' region of approximately 20% to "something close to 23 million in the coming years".

De Waard noted that in 2013, Ford's third- and fourth-largest sales markets in Europe were Turkey and Russia, and that many analysts still expect Russia to overtake Germany as Europe's largest national car market within the next few years.

He also noted in his article that in the traditional markets of Europe "auto companies will have to cut their cloth accordingly to fit with the new reality of a 15 million or so market [compared with previous norms of 18 million] for the foreseeable future".

However, he concluded that "there still is the prospect of significant growth in the wider European market, coupled with targeted opportunities for improvement in the retail, fleet, commercial vehicle, SUV and larger car upmarket segments in the traditional markets."

See also: ANALYSIS: Europe's under water car market growing again