Europe’s drivers steering clear of buying new cars

EUROPEAN car sales fell 4.9 per cent last month, the Association of European Carmakers said yesterday, widening the gap between the booming British market and the slide on the continent.

Registrations fell to 686,957 cars in August, a slow holiday month, as sales slid further in France, Italy and Germany, taking the European decline for January-August to 5.2 per cent.

“Downturn prevailed across significant markets,” the association said in a statement, with the UK alone posting 10 per cent growth.

Paris-based Peugeot led the fall, with an 18 per cent drop in registrations that eroded its market share to 11 per cent for the first eight months, down almost a percentage point year-on-year.

VW’s Audi, the weakest European performer of the three German premiums, still increased share in January-August with a 3.6 per cent dip in sales, less than the market decline. August registrations were down 6.4 per cent.