European car sales fall as unemployment and sluggish growth bite

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New car sales in the EU last month fell 5.6 per cent year-on-year as sluggish growth and high unemployment continued to sap demand, with Fiat, Peugeot-Citroën and General Motors hit hardest.

June’s sales total was the lowest since 1996, but was marginally better than a 5.9 per cent slide in May to the lowest level for 20 years, a slump that has seen traditional volume manufacturers report billion-dollar losses and sparked a series of factory closures.

The UK was again the only large market to post a rise in new registrations, with a 13.4 per cent rise compared with May last year, according to data from the European Automobiles Association (ACEA) released on Tuesday, the 16th consecutive monthly jump.

Car sales fell 4.7 per cent in Germany, 8.4 per cent in France and 5.5 per cent in Italy, according to ACEA. Peugeot Citroën, Fiat and GM saw sales fall 10.8 per cent, 12.6 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.

Ford, which has embarked on a restructuring initiative that involves closing three European factories, was the only major marque to see sales rise in June, recording an 8.1 per cent rise in new registrations. Renault’s low-cost Dacia brand continued to post healthy growth, with a 17 per cent rise in sales.

Executives and analysts expect sales across the EU’s car market to continue falling in 2013, prolonging a slump that began after the global financial crisis derailed the continent’s economic growth.

New car registrations in the EU so far in 2013 stand at 6.2m vehicles, down 6.6 per cent on the same period last year.

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