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Automotive CEOs are pessimistic about 2013, but most don't play layoffs (Photo: Siemens)

Only 30 pc of top managers in the auto industry expect sales growth in 2013, according to a survey by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The annual PwC Global CEO Survey shows that the car industry is more pessimistic than other sectors. On average, 36 pc of the 1,330 top managers polled said they were "very confident" about the 2013 outlook.

In the auto industry, 33 pc of the 90 auto bosses included in the survey were optimistic about the outlook for the next three years, while 52 pc were cautiously optimistic.

"It looks like the auto industry will grow more slowly in 2013," said Felix Kuhnert, head of PwC's automotive practice in Europe. Kuhnert said in a press release he expects global production growth of about 5 pc to 82.8 million vehicles, but said there are likely to be strong variations from one country or region to the next.

Automotive managers polled generally considered China the most important growth market this year, followed by the US and Brazil. But 82 pc cited economic uncertainty as the single biggest risk in the outlook.

Auto managers also were more concerned about exchange rate risks and energy and raw materials prices than their counterparts in other industries.

The auto industry will focus heavily on cost reduction this year, according to the poll. Four out of five CEOs are implementing specific cost reduction programs. In the global industry as a whole, only 70 pc have such plans.

Most auto bosses don't expect to lay off staff. Only 16 pc said they expected job cuts, compared with 23 pc of all CEOs polled.