Ghosn Sees Auto Industry Slump Until 2011

PARIS (AP) -- There will be no rebound in car markets in Europe and Japan before 2011, the head of carmakers Renault and Nissan was quoted Friday as saying.

In comments reported by French daily Le Monde, Carlos Ghosn said that the end of scrapping deals in Europe that encourage car buyers to trade in older cars for new ones would hold back any rebound in the car market. The deals have helped limit the decline in car purchases.

He predicted no pickup in Europe's car industry until at least the first quarter of 2011. He said Japan too would have to wait until 2011 to see improvement.

Ghosn said the car scrapping deals should be gradually run down rather than stopped overnight, and said the French government "is very open" to the idea.

European sales of new cars fell for the thirteenth month in a row in May from the previous year, carmakers' association ACEA said last month, with only two major manufacturers -- Volkswagen AG and Fiat SpA -- selling more than last year.

Renault SA's sales fell 30.8 percent to euro7.1 billion in the first three months of the year as the economic and financial crisis ravaged car sales around the globe.

France's No. 2 carmaker said its vehicle sales slumped 22 percent in Europe during the quarter to 326,000, worse than the 17.2 percent European market decline.

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