Speaking to just-auto’s Glenn Brooks at the Paris motor show, Didier Leroy, the president of Toyota Motor Europe says he remains “optimistic” about the combined 56 markets for which he is responsible.

j-a: What are your thoughts of the chances for a recovery across the European region?

We are trying to be positive for next year. That means we want a stable European market. But we don’t see a recovery at a pan-European level. And by recovery I mean that there is still a risk of a further decline in 2013 in Western Europe. But…this decline, if it happens, should be compensated by growth in Central and Eastern European markets and in some of these countries, we see this already.

The way we build our business is to be realistic; to be prepared for what will come. Will it be decline, or maybe will it be growth in some markets? Three years ago, many experts said the Spanish market would recover “next year” but we know what happened instead. And then they said “OK, we made a mistake but now we are at the bottom” but we know what happened. Now, finally, what will happen this year and next year? Keep in mind that in 2007 the Spanish market was at 1.7 million cars and this year it will be between 700,000 and 800,000.

Our expectation is that in 2012, or maybe in 2013, we will have reached the bottom in Spain, in France, in Italy – that sales will not go lower than these levels we see now. The key challenge after that is to know if there will be any contamination into countries in the north of Europe.

j-a: What prediction will you make for the size of the market in 2013?

In 2012, including Russia, the market should be a little bit more than 18 million and potentially the same level in 2013. Therefore we do next expect any recovery in 2013.

j-a: So you’re pessimistic?

No, I am optimistic. There are plenty of people who say “No no no, it’s no good to plan for growth, the market will continue to drop” but we don’t see this happening in Central and Eastern Europe.

j-a: Would you include Russia in that assessment?

When we talk of Eastern Europe, we also talk of Russia because it’s in our region, it’s part of TME (Toyota Motor Europe). Right now, Russia is going well, other markets nearby are not bad – two, three, four percent improvements in most countries – so if we see this growth continuing and we see a slowdown or end of the decline in Western Europe, next year might not be a bad year.