As concerns grow over the outlook for car demand across the world, Renault executive Patrick Pelata has said that he expects the European automobile market to fall by 20% in 2009.


The Renault Chief Operating Officer also told Le Parisien newspaper that he also expected to see growth in emerging markets coming to a halt.


“Making predictions at the moment is complicated. Three weeks ago I wouldn’t have said that Russia and Brazil would fall,” Pelata said.”


Pelata said Renault, whose new Megane goes on sale this week, would continue its plan of new vehicle launches for 2009 as well as for 2010 through 2011.


However, some adjustments have been made, he said. “In India we are going to invest in a single production line instead of the two we initially planned.”


The group, which is cutting 6,000 jobs in Europe, is ahead of schedule on requests for voluntary redundancy, Pelata said.


Pelata’s 20% decline forecast looks like it is at the low end of current forecasts for 2009, though analysts note that the economic picture, while gloomy, is highly uncertain in terms of the evolving credit availability picture and steps being taken by governments to stimulate economic growth (including tax cuts and interest rate reductions).


JD Power is currently forecasting that the West European car market will reach 13.63m units in 2008 (a decline of 7.9% on 2007). The market is then projected to slump a further 10.5% 12.2m units in 2009.