Nissan Boss: 'European Car Market Depressed'
The president of Renault and Nissan has told Sky News that dwindling demand in Europe is the main concern of global carmakers.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn also admitted that overcapacity in the region was a serious issue.
"There is no doubt that there is overcapacity at the level of the European car market," he said.
"But the problem of overcapacity is not the number one problem. The number one problem is the fact that the market is depressed and continues to be depressed."
Wide-spread austerity measures across Europe have hit consumer sentiment, and car sales in particular.
Europe's automotive industry association said demand for new cars slumped by 8% last year, hitting its lowest level since 1995.
Renault sales fell 18% in the region, while Nissan saw a decrease of 2.4% in 2012.
Mr Ghosn, who heads up the Renault-Nissan Alliance, called for a Europe-wide strategy to deal with the industry's issues.
"There should be some kind of European strategy encompassing support for specific technologies, support for the development of specific products," he said.
It should also address overcapacity, but not be limited to this problem, he added.
His comments came as Nissan unveiled two new cars - the first of 15 models to be launched in Europe over the next three years.
Its new Note and Leaf models will both be built at the company's Sunderland plant, which produced more than 500,000 units in 2012.
In more good news for UK manufacturing, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to create 700 new jobs at its new engine factory near Wolverhampton.
The car company said it would invest £165m more at the plant, which opens later this year, with the first engines coming off the production line in 2015.
The company's chief executive Ralf Speth said: "Jaguar Land Rover's new engine manufacturing centre in the UK is a clear demonstration of our business strategy guiding our investment plans.
"Not only does it bring our engine supply back to our production doorstep, but it gives us significant new resource as we continue to innovate with new products and markets."
Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey described the move as a "fantastic boost" for British manufacturing.
Also in the spotlight at the motor show were electric cars, which have failed to meet sales expectations in recent years.
Nissan, for example, has sold only 50,000 electric Leaf models over the past two-and-a-half years.
But Mr Ghosn remained upbeat about the market, defending his earlier prediction that by 2020 one in 10 new cars would be electric.
"If you take countries like China, like Japan, like France, like the UK or like the US it is very likely that you will see electric powered vehicles representing up to 10% of the market," he told Sky News.
"What is missing today is the development of infrastructure."