As the Geneva Auto Show opened, the theme that emerged was that demand for luxury vehicles is holding up better than the mass market.
Sales figures also show some carmakers are proving more successful than others in tapping stronger demand from north America and emerging markets.
On the luxury front, the head of Audi in France, Benoit Thiers, said what you get is more important than size: “Luxury clothing is available in all sizes — large, extra large and even extra small. It’s the same with cars: with growing urbanisation and our customers increasingly living in cities, they are more and more looking to own a small, premium car.”
Audi believes demand for luxury vehicles in China, where it is market leader, will continue to expand.
The projected figures for this year tell the story with sales in Western Europe this year forecast to be 12.1 million vehicles, just half those in Asia at 24.2 million.
The contrast at Geneva can be seen from BMW and Volkswagen’s issuing upbeat forecasts while Peugeot announced it was selling cheap shares to fund its tie-up with General Motors.
Japanese car maker Nissan underscored its confidence by saying it would invest 150 million euros to build its new Invitation compact car in Sunderland in northeast England, creating a total of 2,000 jobs at Nissan and its suppliers.