French carmakers are expecting strong sales in the final months of 2009 as drivers flock to take advantage of government scrapping schemes before the end of the year, contributing to uncertainty about 2010, executives have told the Reuters Auto Summit.

Renault COO Patrick Pelata said that the automaker's good order book meant it was optimistic about the next few months, and probably on the first quarter of 2010 but, after that, there were "big question marks".

Peugeot is expecting a "rather strong finish" to 2009, deputy managing director Nicolas Wertans told the summit, which is taking place at Reuters offices in Paris and Detroit from 2 to 5 November.

Pelata said he saw the broader market for new passenger vehicles, hit by a collapse in demand caused by the global recession, continuing to decline next year despite a better end to 2009.

"Our thoughts about the market next year in Europe is, let's say, minus 8 to minus 10% against 2009," he said.

Pelata promised additional cost cuts to fight the sales decline, on top of Renault's expected 17 to 18% reduction in fixed costs between 2007 and the end of this year.

Peugeot's Wertans said he expected the overall European market to reach around 14.5m units next year, compared with 15.5 to 16.0m in 2009, as the early signs of economic recovery would offset the carmakers' "payback period" after government incentives to trade in old cars fade or stop altogether.

His outlook corresponds to a decline of about 8%, the news agency noted.

The scrapping scheme in Germany, Europe's largest car market, has already ended, and while Peugeot does not see a "boom" in France in the last few months of the year, it should have strong sales there, he said.

"There will be probably a payback period next year, especially in some big markets like Germany, but it will be slightly less strong than what we would have feared a few months ago, because in the meantime the economy is slightly recovering," Wertans told the summit.

The PSA group as a whole is aiming for Chinese market share of around 10% versus a current level of roughly 3.5% for the two brands.

"We don't have much time, because all car manufacturers are planning the same," Wertans said.

Peugeot will next year unveil a mid-sized sedan aimed at the Chinese market, Wertans said.

"We're too small in China," he added.