Europe's luxury carmakers fear no double-dip thanks to a fresh supply of wealthy customers in emerging markets who have just earned enough money to buy their first Mercedes-Benz or Ferrari.
A boom in the premium car market this year has rendered the global financial meltdown a distant memory, and luxury car executives no longer break out in a cold sweat when they hear the name "Lehman."
Massive economic growth in Asia and in particular in China not only helps drive local demand, but has also triggered a chain reaction by spurring export-led rebounds in countries like Germany.
"We were all surprised how quickly the markets recovered from the crisis. I wouldn't have dared predict back in January that we would sell 1,080,000 vehicles this year -- that was inconceivable at the time," Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer told reporters during the Paris Auto Show.
"Today there is no market anywhere where I would say there is a crisis. Apart from maybe Greece, every region of the world is otherwise booming," he said, adding that the order backlog in Europe was the biggest in its history.
Rivals BMW and Daimler started the year with extremely conservative profit targets. Each has revised guidance higher over the course of the year thanks to margins that nearly reached the double-digits known from the pre-crisis years.
Shares in BMW, perhaps the best market barometer as the only remaining pure-play luxury carmaker, hit a record high on Thursday before news of a big recall on Friday.
By comparison, Opel GM.UL Chief Executive Nick Reilly called the European volume car market "still very depressed."
Hyundai Europe Vice President Allan Rushforth stuck to his forecast last year that the European market wouldn't reach levels of 13.5 million vehicles until 2014.
"I think I was one of the least optimistic of the pundits in the auto industry and I still think it will be quite a long time before we see a recovery to the sort of markets we've seen in 2007," he said.
Back in the world of luxury brands, Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said his company would this year earn close to the all-time record level seen in 2008.
"We are going extremely well in China, very well in Hong Kong, Singapore, Far East and Middle East and we are just one month away from the opening of this fantastic Ferrari theme park in Abu Dhabi," Montezemolo said.
Sales in China could double to 500 cars in three years time, and Ferrari is even wagering it can sell its stallion-branded sports cars in India starting in January despite the generally poor state of the country's roads.
Luxury carmakers are also confident that their volumes will continue to rise in 2011, even if the double-digit growth rates this year will not likely prove sustainable.
"The prospects for the premium car market next year -- because of emerging markets -- are pretty good, but we will see slower growth," Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche told reporters at the show, saying last month was the best September for Mercedes-Benz in its history.
Maserati marketing director Massimo Farao said he was simply being "prudent" when he forecast sales would be flat next year.
Meanwhile, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was more worried about customer waiting lists becoming longer, since some smaller suppliers who let workers go could no longer keep up with the burgeoning demand for Audi models like the R8 super sports car.
"None of this matters if you don't have enough door trimmings, for example," he said.
(Editing by Michael Shields)