Car makers have been warned that the industry faces 'brutal' trading conditions.
That's the opinion of the European Unions Industry Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, who was speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels to discuss ways of providing state aid to troubled manufacturers.
'The outlook for the industry is, to say the least, brutal,' said Verheugen. 'We have seen a dramatic decrease in car sales, especially in the final quarter of 2008 - with a drop of more than 20%.
'We expect another drop of 20% for 2009 that will affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers. There is no guarantee that all the main European manufacturers can survive the crisis.'
EU ministers are considering plans to kick-start the car market, including paying new car owners to scrap their old vehicles.
Another solution could be to provide aid to car financing firms to help customers fund new purchases. The UK Treasury is independently considering a similar scheme.