I see Graeme Maxton has published a forecast outlook for the European car market that predicts a 5.7% fall this year and a further 2.5% next year. Graeme has a reputation for issuing extremely gloomy market forecasts (and someone has already got in very quick to the just-auto forums to say this one is too pessimistic too), but I'd say he's probably not too far off the mark this time around. The underlying fundamentals don't look good, in terms of the macroeconomic picture - especially in Germany - and the fact that replacement demand ought to be weakening across the region after the high markets of the last five years. A 5.7% decline for the year as a whole doesn't sound too outrageous. A further dip in the first half of next year and a recovering trend thereafter, as economic growth picks up, could conceivably leave a drop of the order of 2.5% in 2004. By the standards of past market declines that would make this one still fairly mild. To talk our way out of that scenario needs something pretty positive to happen - equity markets bouncing back very strongly later this year for example and consumer confidence really recovering. Consumer confidence in Europe has taken such a pummelling in recent years, I can't see that happening. Look how weak things are even with interest rates where they are.