GM expects car sales in Europe to drop by 4-5 percent in 2013 image

General Motors forecasts industrywide auto sales in Europe will fall 4 percent to 5 percent in 2013 compared to this year, when sales are expected to be the weakest in nearly 20 years.

According to GM’s Europe chief Steve Girsky, the company is not relying on market share gains of its Opel and Vauxhall brands to financially succeed. The executive added that GM was cash-flow positive in the third quarter in Europe, despite the fact that the company expects to lose between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion in the region in 2012.

General Motors still sees the European economy as flat to slightly deteriorating. The company said it expects to break even in Europe by 2015-2016. Opel has been dragging down GM’s results, leading the automaker to push for changes at its European unit, which has lost a total of $16 billion over the past twelve years despite repeated job cuts. In the third quarter, GM Europe posted an operating loss of $478 million, in line with what analysts had expected.

GM Europe builds and sells cars through its Opel brand in most of Europe and in the UK through the Vauxhall brand.