New Car Sales Slip In Europe

Eastern Europe was strong but Germany, France and Spain were weak.

New car sales in Europe fell by 0.6% in April because of weakness in Germany, France and Spain and despite strong performance in Eastern Europe, the European automobile association ACEA said on May 16.

Registrations of new passenger cars in Europe -- comprising the EU members except Cyprus and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland -- totaled 1.292 million units in April compared to 1.299 million a year earlier.

"While the new EU member states enjoyed the fourth consecutive month of growth, Western Europe performed below the trend," ACEA said.The German car market, the biggest in Europe, was particularly weak, with registrations, dropping 7% over the period and continuing a weak trend since a sales tax hike at the beginning of the year. The French and Spanish markets were nearly as weak, with registrations tumbling 5% in France and 6% in Spain. However, the EU's newest member states, mostly former communist countries in Eastern Europe, saw registrations jump 12.9%.

Among the major brands, Europe's leading carmaker VW Group saw sales ease 0.2% in April over one year while France's PSA Group, the second-biggest European carmaker, saw sales rise 1.5%. They were followed by Ford, which saw sales rise 2.4%, and GM, which saw sales fall 4.7%. Fiat's recovery after several lean years continued to gather steam as its sales surged 8% while Renault's sales tumbled 10.5%. Toyota enjoyed strong growth in February with its sales rising 1.3% while DaimlerChrysler saw sales drop 4.6% and rival BMW saw an increase of 2.6%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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