PARIS -- Renault SA expects the European car market to shrink by around five percent this year, at the low end of its previous forecast, Chairman Louis Schweitzer said on Tuesday.
West European demand for new cars fell 3.8 percent in the first five months of 2002 as slowing economic growth discouraged people from investing in big ticket items.
With sales now falling in three out of Europe's four biggest car markets, manufacturers who started the year predicting flat sales have been forced to revise their estimates lower.
"We had said that we saw a market fall of between zero and five percent," Schweitzer told journalists after the launch of Renault's new Megane compact car in Douai, northern France.
"We are now expecting around minus five percent, give or take a little. It could be a bit better, possibly a little worse."
On June 24, Jean-Martin Folz, the chief executive of Renault's French peer PSA Peugeot Citroen told Reuters he expected the European car market to decline by between two and four percent this year.
Schweitzer said he was sticking to his goal of an operating profit this year.