China and India’s rapidly growing car markets will see the Asia Pacific region outpace Europe in vehicle sales by as early as 2009, according to a new study released by J.D. Power and Associates. The research firm predicts vehicle sales in Asia will reach 23 million units at the end of '09, with European sales forecasted to tip 22.7 million.

Sales in Asia Pacific should reach 19.2 million at the end of this year, while the figure for Europe should top 21.5 million, according to data compiled by Automotive News. While Europe faces steady growth heading towards the end of the decade, rapidly rising income levels in Asia is making vehicle ownership possible for more consumers and opening up new markets.

China has been experiencing the most growth, with an annual compounded growth rate of 25% since 2001 and a further 12% growth expected for each year between now and 2014. According to the J.D. study, China should surpass the US in vehicle sales by 2025 to become the world's biggest car market.