Europe is becoming an even bloodier global automotive battlefield. And this year's Geneva auto show highlights the growing geographical diversity of the combatants.
Archetypal American brands are stepping up efforts to take a greater share of the European car market. Dodge will start selling volume models in Europe in 2006. General Motors will launch a Saab-based small Cadillac built in Sweden.
Driving these moves is a desire to find customers wherever there is an opportunity, however small. Dodge is not expecting large volumes. It can use the Chrysler dealer network, while the low dollar will boost its competitiveness.
Cadillac hopes its small BLS luxury sedan will open the market for its other, bigger models.
Toyota aims to strengthen its Lexus luxury brand here with a new version of the IS lower-premium sedan. At the other end of the spectrum, the Aygo should raise Toyota's presence in the fiercely competitive minicar segment.
Korea's Daihatsu launched a new Sirion in Geneva. Subaru was testing the European waters with its Japanese R1 minicar. Kia's new Rio brings another competitor to the lower-medium segment.
There was only one Chinese car in Geneva, the Pininfarina-styled Saibao. It won't be sold in Europe anytime soon, but the car is engineered to European standards and serves as a reminder that Chinese automakers have their eye on Europe, too.
Amid all the important new car launches in Geneva, many auto executives expressed optimism about their prospects in Europe.
But the numbers don't add up. When everyone is projecting gains in a market that is expected to be flat or worse, someone must lose.