Worst January since 1990 for EU carmakers

Ben Southwood
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NEW CAR registrations in the EU collapsed to their lowest January level since 1990 last month, dealing the union’s carmakers a drubbing.

Peugeot Citroen, Ford, Fiat, Toyota, Volvo, Suzuki and Mitsubishi suffered double digit falls in sales between already-poor January 2012 and January 2013, figures revealed yesterday, as Europe’s economic troubles clobbered one of its biggest industries.

Overall sales were down 8.7 per cent over the year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), bringing total sales across the union to 885,159, under a million for the first time in 23 years.

Sales were down 9.6 per cent in Spain, 15.9 per cent in Sweden, 18.8 per cent in Ireland, 15.1 per cent in France, and 17.6 per cent in crisis-hit Italy. And even powerhouse econo- my Germany felt the pain, with an 8.6 per cent plunge – only slightly better than the bloc average.

Other smaller economies that have also avoided much of the Eurozone pain nevertheless came in for a car sales hammering. Sales crashed 28.2 per cent in Finland, and plummeted 31.2 per cent in the Netherlands.

But the worst fall was saved for Greece, with 34.5 per cent fewer car sales than a year before. That amounts to around 5,533 new cars shifted in January, in a country with a population of around 11m – meaning just one 20th of a per cent of Greeks bought new vehicles.

By contrast, sales in the UK soared 11.5 per cent, sales in Poland jumped 8.8 per cent, and Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Estonia also saw sig- nificant gains.

Despite the combination of UK growth and German decline, the latter remained the biggest EU car market, with 192,090 new registrations during the month, followed by the UK at 143,643, France at 124,798 and Italy at 113,525.

The worst-hit carmaker in proportional terms was Mitsubishi, with sales down some 37.4 per cent, followed by Ford, which suffered a 25.5 per cent drop, Suzuki and Peugeot Citroen.

The best performer was Jaguar Land Rover, which managed to grow its sales 19 per cent.

Honda and Mazda also enjoyed double-digit growth, and Kia sales were up 7.2 per cent.

Volkswagen retained its top spot, with sales falling 5.5 per cent – less than average – so that it gained 0.8 percentage points of market share.

In January it sold 24.4 per cent of all cars sold in the EU, some 13 percentage points ahead of the nearest contender, Peugeot Citroen.