EU car sales in March still below 2011, but decline may be easing

LAST March, demand for new cars in the European Union was negative for the sixth consecutive month, with a decline of 7% compared to March 2011 – a lower decrease than the 9.7% seen in February.

Data from ACEA, European automobile manufacturers’ association, shows that while retaining their importance in terms of volumes (1,453,407 new cars), March registrations have not been this low since 1998. Over the first quarter, the EU market shrank by 7.7%, compared to the same period a year ago, with a total of 3,312,657 new registrations.

From January to March, contrasting performance across countries led to an overall 7.7% drop. Looking at the major markets, the German (+1.3%) and British (+0.9%) slightly expanded, while the Spanish dropped by 1.9%, and Italy (-21%) and France (-21.6%) faced a much sharper downturn.

Results in March were diverse across the EU as Italy (-26.7%), France (-23.2%) and Spain (-4.5%) saw their markets contract whereas the UK (+1.8%) and Germany (+3.4%) performed better than they did in the same month a year earlier.(PRA)