The European Union was the leading auto market in the world in 2009. It sold 14.4m, versus 13.6m in China and 10.4m in the USA.
January has continued this promising trend, with volumes up 13% versus 2009. But it is likely to prove temporary, as government scrappage schemes end. This has already happened in the major German market, where January sales were actually down 4% versus 2009.
The chart also gives a good picture of the relative decline in volumes since the downturn began. Versus January 2008, EU volumes last month were actually down 17%. And between 2003 - 8, January sales ranged between 1.2m - 1.3m, versus only 1.06m this year.