EUROPEAN car sales fell for a sixth straight month in March, industry data showed yesterday, as the deepening slump in France and Italy outweighed a fragile recovery in Germany and Britain.
Registrations dropped 6.6 per cent to 1.5m cars across the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland – their lowest March level since 1998, the Association of European Automakers (ACEA) revealed.
The year-on-year slide accelerated in much of southern Europe compared with the previous month to 27 per cent in Italy, 23 per cent in France and 4.5 per cent in Spain.
Punished by the Mediterranean slump, deliveries by Italy’s Fiat plunged 26 per cent to 81,469 cars, followed by French carmakers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen, with declines close to 20 per cent.
“The mass market is so much more exposed to weaker southern European countries, whereas luxury is proving more resilient,” said Barclays Capital’s Kristina Church.
General Motors’ European sales fell 10 per cent, Ford’s 7.6 per cent and Toyota’s 2.1 per cent.
However, the German and British car markets turned positive last month, with respective gains of 3.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent. The upturn helped Germany’s Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, to buck the overall market contraction with a 1.7 per cent advance to 352,455 cars.