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Paris show opens at gloomy times for carmakers

Paris show opens at gloomy times for carmakers
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The Paris Motor Show opens this week with the industry under pressure. There have been double-digit declines in new car registrations in western Europe, the US and Japan. The more than 350 manufacturers taking part in Europe’s biggest car show are trying to boost sales by unveiling smaller and more fuel-efficient cars for cash-strapped motorists.

But the credit crisis has meant an end to the generous loans that dealers used to be able to use to tempt buyers. The last couple of years have seen annual sales growth of around 1%, but the latest forecast from consultants Global Insight is for a fall in vehicle sales this year of 5.5%.

There is little consensus among carmakers; PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s boss Christian Streiff said he is sticking to his target of selling four million vehicles by 2010 despite what he called “an economic climate that is much tougher than forecast when the plan was worked out.”

But Renault’s Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said “We don’t know if we are at the start of the end or the end of the start,” and he believes the world economic slump could last as long as two years. The show opens to public at the weekend.