After the strong incentive driven end to 2004, especially in Germany, the European car market was always expected to be weak in January. The seasonally adjusted annualised sales rate (SAAR) duly declined to 13.9 million units after hitting a bumper 16.5 million-unit level in December. But JD Power-LMC says that the recovery from January's market 'payback' could appear as early as February, although the prognosis for the year remains for an essentially flat European car market.