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European Car Sales Plunge in June

The European car market suffered another month of heavy declines in June and its fourth drop overall this year as rapidly deteriorating economic conditions kept new car buyers from leaving the house.

Woman looks at new Toyota Camry on dealer lot
AP
Woman looks at new Toyota Camry on dealer lot

Without even so much as one extra working day to mitigate the bleak figures, new car registrations in June slumped 7.9 percent to 1.43 million vehicles, according to data published on Wednesday by the Brussels-based European automotive industry association ACEA.

Hardly a single carmaker was spared as demand crumbled across most of the continent, even afflicting growth markets in the new Eastern EU member states like Romania and dragging down sales of Renault's successful low-cost Dacia brand.

Italy and Spain bore the worst of it, though, as new car registrations plunged 20 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

"Rising inflation and soaring fuel prices were among the main factors influencing new registrations," the ACEA said in a statement.

Registrations of new cars in the first half fell 2.0 percent to 8.34 million vehicles as a result of last month's drop, which already followed a 7.8 percent decline in May.

Late on Tuesday, Germany's car industry lobby VDA blamed Spain's severe drop in June on a scrapping incentive for cars older than 15 years that first took effect at the beginning of this month, possibly leading buyers to postpone their purchases.

A resilient BMW Group managed to come out as the only winner in the lucrative, yet flagging Western European market last month thanks to an 8.3 percent gain in Mini sales and at least stagnant demand for its core BMW brand.

Ford and its Swedish marque Volvo could count themselves lucky in comparison with their rivals as registrations slid less than 1 percent each last month.

Among the major carmakers with combined monthly sales of over 50,000 vehicles in the EU15 and EFTA states, where demand fell 8.2 percent in June, none could do any worse than Toyota.

Fiat, Seat Escape Worst

Its market share was shaved to just 5.2 percent in the first half, less than that of premium rivals Daimler and BMW.

The Japanese group continued its string of double-digit losses as June sales in Western Europe tumbled 19 percent.

Even Toyota's premium Lexus brand suffered, managing to surrender its lead over resurgent Jaguar by selling fewer cars both in the month and first half than Tata Motor's newly acquired UK luxury marque.

Honda and Mitsubishi, far smaller players in the European market, both saw sales collapse by more than 20 percent each, so Toyota was not the only Japanese carmaker to suffer a weak month.

Although demand for Opel, Chevrolet and Saab badged cars is surging in Russia, General Motors came close to matching Toyota's disastrous month in Western Europe.

New registrations for the U.S. carmaker sank 15.2 percent as all three of its core nameplates posted heavily lower sales.

Despite the bottom falling out of the market in Spain, Volkswagen's local brand Seat, which still generates the bulk of its sales at home, escaped with a 16 percent decline in Western European new car registrations.

While Fiat sustained a mild 2.9 percent fall by succeeding to find other outlets for demand apart from Italy, its Lancia brand fared less well with a 9.4 percent drop.

Alfa Romeo, which announced last week it was examining a partnership with BMW's Mini, took a heavy blow as sales plunged 28 percent.