New car sales fall in Europe

CAR sales in the UK and Europe plummeted in October as the end of government help for the car industry and uncertainty about spending cuts took their toll.

New car registrations in the EU fell 16.6 per cent to 1.03m versus October 2009, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said. Demand dipped 5.5 per cent to 11.3m this year so far, the figures showed.

Sales in all big European markets fell, with UK?demand dipping 22.2 per cent, in Germany by a fifth, in France 18.5 per cent, in Italy by 28.8 per cent and in Spain by 37.6 per cent.

Among carmakers, Italy’s Fiat, America’s Ford and Chrysler and Japan’s Toyota were the biggest losers, falling 32.9 per cent, 29.5 per cent, 43.6 per cent and 28.7 per cent respectively.

The best performers was BMW, up 5.1 per cent, Volvo rising two per cent and Mitsubishi gaining 43.2 per cent.

Industry experts said the data showed the impact of economic uncertainty and the end of state scrappage schemes, which help people to buy new cars in return for trading in old vehicles.

President of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, Garel Rhys, said the UK scrappage scheme boosted the market by 300,000 cars in 2009 and by 100,000 this year, but he said it benefited the car retail and wholesale industry more than manufacturers.

It was likely to be 2013 before the car market returned to the pre-recession level of 2.4m cars sold in 2007, he said. “The fall in the car market is entirely in keeping with the anaemic growth in the economy,” he said.

“People are worried about what will happen to their job prospects in the next couple of years.”