Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Car sales slide adds to Europe's economic woes

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New car registrations in the EU down to 1.3m in March, with a 17% drop in sales in Germany

Car sales across Europe slumped by more than 10% in March, as the continent's economic malaise pushed down demand for automotives for the 18th consecutive month.

New car registrations in the European Union, a proxy for sales, fell to 1.3m in March compared with 1.45m the previous year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). Toyota, Ford and Peugeot Citroën all recorded double-digit falls in sales, following a bruising year for carmakers in Europe when plant closures were announced in the UK, France and Germany with thousands of job losses.

Analysts were especially worried about the 17% drop in sales in Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse and a nation of car enthusiasts. German automakers Volkswagen and Daimler recorded falls in sales of 9% and 4.7% respectively. "The western European passenger-car market is on track this year to hit levels last seen in 1993 and Germany seems to be in a free-fall," Max Warburton, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a note to clients.

Demand also sank in other major continental markets, falling 14.5% in France, 13.9% in Spain and 4.9% in Italy. The UK was the only major bright spot for carmakers, with sales up 5.9%.

"There was a lot of hope that the second half would start to see some gradual improvement," Stephen Odell, president of Ford Europe, told Reuters. "But with unemployment at 12 million in the euro area, it doesn't feel like we're going to see that just for a while." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Tom McCarthy 17 Apr, 2013

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