The West European car market is set for a 6% decline in 2012 according to the forecasting analysts at LMC Automotive.

Analyst Jonathan Poskitt, speaking at a conference in London this week, also warned that the continuing eurozone crisis threatened to send it down even further.

LMC Automotive data shows that the West European car market has declined from 14.5m-15m pre-crisis 'norm' to a level of around 12m this year.

“And we expect the market to be more or less flat in 2013, at around 12m again,” Poskitt told delegates.

Poskitt noted that a shallow recovery to demand thereafter is projected to take the market back to pre-crisis levels (2007) by 2017 or 2018, but cautioned that there is much uncertainty regarding possible developments in the eurozone crisis and how economies could be affected.

“If we get a disorderly break-up of the eurozone, the consequences for the European economy could be devastating,” he said. “In that scenario, with GDP in many countries seeing sizeable reductions on where we are now, the car market could see a very substantial step decline of another 1.5m or 2m units.”

Poskitt also said that northern Europe is where much of the downside demand risk is, as many southern European car markets have already seen large market contractions in the current crisis.