European New Car Sales Slump 9.5%

Sales effected by U.S. financial situation

As economic uncertainty upset buyers in the region's biggest markets, new car sales in Europe slumped 9.5% in March, the ACEA European automakers' association said on April 15. Registrations of new passenger cars in Europe -- comprising the EU members except Cyprus and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland -- totaled 1,654,214 in March.

The drop was driven by 10.3% fall over one year in the 15 oldest members of the EU while fast growing new member states continued to see sales holding up with an increase of 3.5%.

"In a context of economic uncertainty generated by the U.S. financial crisis, car sales in Western Europe were effected most by the decline," ACEA said.

Among the major brands, Europe's biggest carmaker, the Volkswagen group, saw its sales drop 12.5% in March while the second biggest automaker, the PSA group, saw its sales fall 13.9%. Following them, the Ford group saw sales of its new cars fall 11.9% in March while the GM group's sales plunged 12%. Sales of new Renaults fell 5.5% while Fiat sales plummeted 12.1%. Toyota sales nosedived 16.5% in March while BMW rose 2.3% amid fast growth at its Mini brand. Daimler saw its sales jump 1.4%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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