ESSEN: Germany, the backyard of automaking giants Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler, could see itself knocked from third place in the world car production league by China, according to a new study.

Polk Marketing Systems says the Asian economic powerhouse will have produced 5.9 million cars and light-duty commercial vehicles by the end of the year. Germany is expected to see 5.38m cars roll off its production lines during 2006.

The US remains the world's biggest auto producer - notching around 11m vehicles this year despite the travails of the Detroit Big Three - followed by Japan's 10.63m.

The report estimates that production in China should break the 10m vehicle barrier within the next decade, putting it on equal footing with the US and Japan.

Analysts say the global total of cars produced this year is likely to be 64m - up four percent from 2005. They expect annual car production to reach 75m vehicles by 2015.

Data sourced from DW-World (Germany); additional content by WARC staff