Global automotive industry figures may indicate another year of record vehicle sales and production, but it feels more like a recession to many, delegates at a just-auto event heard today.

Speaking at just-auto’s ‘industry intelligence event’ at Solihull, UK, just-auto editor Dave Leggett, told delegates the automotive industry is seeing strongly diverse regional patterns which left many with the feeling we are seeing a ‘growth paradox’.

“On the plus side, growth remains strong in many emerging markets and North American vehicle sales are up strongly this year,” he said. “But Western Europe is most certainly the fly in the ointment with sales likely to decline by around 8% this year and be flat at best in 2013. That has led to discounted sales, continued financial losses and overcapacity.”

He also drew attention to the problems being faced by the mainstream volume brands in Europe. “The likes of Renault, PSA, Fiat and Opel have been squeezed over the last ten years as premium makes have taken more share with more niche models and Asian brands – the Japanese and Koreans – have also edged up.

“There are now some hard decisions to be taken on capacity reduction and restructuring.”

Leggett added the economic problems in the eurozone appear far from resolved. “The remarks from some car company executives at Paris were striking,” he said.

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“They are prudently planning on the current tough market conditions continuing for a few years yet.”