JD Power has predicted western European car sales will reach 13.33 million units in 2009, just shy of the 13.56 million units sold in 2008.
The automotive forecaster said scrappage incentive schemes and significant discounts from manufacturers could see 2009 sales reach those seen last year.
Western European car sales were up 4.1 per cent in June to 1.37 million units, the first rise in 12 months.
A JD Power statement said: “While sales will be well down on 'normal' levels in 2009, the double incentive has had the effect of stabilizing the market and preventing what would otherwise have become a collapse.”
JD predicts that Germany will be western Europe’s strongest seller and it may reach four million units by the end of 2009 if the country’s scrappage scheme remains a success.
“A market of around 4 million units now looks to be a realistic possibility for 2009 with sales pushing up towards the record set in 1991 during reunification,” said the statement.
UK and Spanish sales are set to continue to improve after scrappage schemes started in May. French and Italian figures are already up on last year’s due to the success of similar schemes.
But JD added its voice to the ongoing concern of how markets will suffer when scrappage schemes end.
“Demand at the current level may prove almost impossible to sustain,” said JD Power.
“If, as appears very likely indeed, the incentive schemes expire at the end of 2009 as planned, the negative impact will be large. We expect this market correction to be significant enough to more than wipe out any gains in underlying demand or even the renewal of incentives in other countries for 2010.”