European car sales decline
European auto sales declined 4.6 per cent in October, with Renault and General Motors reporting the largest drops, as a recession in countries using the euro discouraged consumers from making large purchases.
Registrations in the 27-member European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland fell to 998,899 vehicles from 1.05 million a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, said today.
Ten-month sales decreased 6.9 per cent to 10.7 million cars.
Car sales in the region are set to plummet to the lowest in since 1995, according to the ACEA.
Declining demand in the past five years means that 25 per cent to 30 per cent of European assembly capacity is not in use, the industry group estimated on November 8.
Among Europe's five biggest markets, Spain led car sales declines with a 22 per cent drop, registration falling 12 per cent in Italy and 7.8 per cent in France.
Sales increased 0.5 per cent in Germany and 12 per cent in the UK.
European sales by Renault, which is based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, fell 21 per cent to 86,735 vehicles.
GM, which owns the Opel and Vauxhall brand in Europe, posted a 14 per cent drop to 70,313 cars, led by a 21 per cent plunge at its Chevrolet marque.
The euro-area economy went into a recession for the second time in four years in the last quarter as governments imposed tougher budget cuts and leaders struggled to contain the sovereign-debt crisis that broke out in October 2009.
Gross domestic product in the 17-nation bloc slipped 0.1 per cent in the third quarter after a 0.2 per cent decline in the previous three months, the EU statistics office said yesterday.
Peugeot, Europe's second-biggest carmaker, sold 121,107 cars in Europe, a 5.1 per cent decline.
The Paris-based manufacturer said in July that it had burned through about €200 million in cash monthly at its automotive unit for the past year, and outlined plans to close a factory amid cost-cutting measures targeted at reducing its headcount in France by 8,000.
The French government has moved to support Peugeot, which is junk-rated by all three major ratings companies, by backing €7 billion in new bonds for its financing arm.
The EU said on November 8 it planned to increase funding for the auto industry as part of an effort to create a coordinated response with labour leaders and politicians to support crisis-strapped carmakers.
Fiat's European sales fell 5.8 per cent to 64,736 cars.