European car sales slump amid recession

DPA Berlin | Updated on March 12, 2018

Sales of Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen’s core VW brand declined 5.8 per cent in June.

New car sales in the EU fell to their lowest level in 17 years in June as high unemployment and a protracted recession continue to sap consumer demand, data released Tuesday showed.

Registrations totalled 1,134,042 in June, a fall of 5.6 per cent when compared to the same month last year, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said.

This represented the lowest point since 1996, the Brussels-based ACEA said.

Leading the downturn were sharp falls in four of the region’s biggest car markets in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. However, Britain bucked the trend, posting a 13.4-per-cent gain.

The EU new car markets contracted by 6.6 per cent during the first half of the year compared with the January-June period of 2012, the ACEA said.

The data came against the backdrop of a growing crisis in the European car industry with heavy discounting among dealers, plant closures, job cuts, over-capacity and volume carmakers reporting mounting losses.

Unemployment in the 27-member EU hit 11 per cent in May. Many EU countries are struggling to emerge from a recession. Croatia became the EU’s 28th member on July 1.

Sales of Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen’s core VW brand declined 5.8 per cent last month, while French rival PSA Peugeot-Citroen posted a 10.8-per-cent drop.

Up until now, strong demand in the world’s two biggest car markets in China and the US has helped European carmakers to offset the downturn at home.

Fiat sales fell 5.5 per cent after a similar drop in Italy’s new car market in June compared with a year earlier, the ACEA said. Total registrations were down 10.3 per cent in the first half.

It was a similar story for big international auto groups such as Japan’s Toyota. Sales of Toyota cars slumped by 3.9 per cent in June.

Most luxury car brands did not fare any better. Sales of BMW, the world’s top premium brand, fell by 7.9 per cent.

New registrations of Audi vehicles, Volkswagen’s luxury brand, were down 8.2 per cent, while Toyota’s Lexus plummeted by 31.4 per cent.

Only Mercedes-Benz managed a gain with sales rising 2.7 per cent in June.

Renault’s budget Dacia brand jumped by 17 per cent, helping the French company to post a modest rise in total group sales.

There were some other bright spots in the data. Greece and Portugal, which have been at the centre the eurozone debt crisis, reported a pick up in their car markets.

In Portugal, registrations rebounded by 17.6 per cent. Greece also posted a 2.2-per-cent increase.

But in Ireland, which has also been forced to turn to the EU for a bailout, the new car market shrunk by 73.7 per cent.

Published on July 16, 2013

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