FRANKFURT -- The chief executive of Volkswagen AG gave a subdued outlook for the European car market in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
"It is not to be expected that the backlog in demand is going to be resolved in the short term and that automobile sales in Western Europe will rise in the coming years," Bernd Pischetsrieder told Welt am Sonntag.
Pischetsrieder said Volkswagen was taking steps to improve its own performance but a weak economy and a strong euro would cap the upside.
Asked if things could get worse for the company if the euro continued rising against the dollar, Pischetsrieder replied: "Things are bad enough already."
The company lost 1 billion euros in its U.S. business last year, which Pischetsrieder said was a "catastrophe."
"I hope that through new models in the United States and the production of the Jetta in Mexico, the situation will ease somewhat.
"That would allow us to compensate somewhat for further worsening in the exchange rate," he said.
The euro has risen 6 percent against the dollar since the start of 2004 and 28 percent since the start of 2003. It was trading at above $1.33 on Friday.
Volkswagen reported last month that its operating profit sank more than 12 percent in 2004 to 2.015 billion euros before special items from a restated 2.297 billion the previous year.