(Reuters) - As U.S. carmaker General Motors hurtled toward a June 1 restructuring deadline, with a bankruptcy filing looking increasingly likely, Germany held a last-minute round of meetings with Fiat, one of three bidders for its German unit Opel on Tuesday.
The automotive industry worldwide has been hit hard by an unprecedented sales crisis sparked by the global economic slowdown.
Below are some key facts about the industry, its major markets and significance for the global economy.
* Auto manufacturing has a global turnover of around $2.6 trillion, more than the GDP of France but less than that of China, Germany, Japan, or the United States.
* The auto sector contributes 3-4 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, and over 6 percent of EU-15 GDP, according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
* Around 9 million jobs worldwide, or over 5 percent of the world’s manufacturing workforce, are directly linked to making vehicles and parts. Each direct auto job supports at least another 5 jobs indirectly, with many more people employed in related service and manufacturing jobs, meaning more than 50 million people earn their livings from the industry.
* The U.S. automotive industry employed 850,000 people in manufacturing jobs at the end of 2008, according to Frost & Sullivan.
* Japan produced over 11.5 million vehicles in 2007, and accounts for around 725,000 jobs. Japanese car industry body JAMA estimates 2009 domestic demand for passenger cars and commercial vehicles at 4.86 million units, which would mark a fifth successive year of decline.
* Before the crisis hit, Russia — where around 755,000 people are employed in the auto industry — had been widely forecast to overtake Germany as Europe’s biggest market in 2009, with car sales now expected to fall by around 50 percent in that market this year. Around 3.2 million automobiles worth a total of $69 billion were sold there in 2008.
Sources: OICA, ACEA, JAMA, Frost & Sullivan, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Reporting by Helen Massy-Beresford; Editing by Dan Lalor and David Cowell