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European automakers, too, struggle with competition from Asia
By John Porretto / AP Auto Writer

Europe’s automakers are facing the same challenge as Detroit’s Big Three: an erosion of market share on their home turf as Asian competitors pick up more sales.

Japanese and Korean car makers increased their Western Europe stake to 16 percent last year from 14.2 percent in 2002, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. But major players such as Volkswagen AG, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA, as well as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., saw their European market shares decline. BMW Group was alone in increasing its business, although only slightly.

To help revive sales -- or at least defend their current positions -- European automakers are launching more new models, many of which will be on display this coming week at the 74th Geneva International Motor Show, one of the world’s major car exhibitions.

“It’s been a difficult market, and people will be looking at this show to see what’s coming in the next few years,” said Colin Couchman, an analyst with the forecasting firm Global Insight in London. “It should be a good barometer.”

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