UPDATE 2-French car market set for worst year since 1997

Mon Dec 3, 2012 12:54pm EST

* French November new car registrations down 19.2 pct

* CCFA sees French auto market down 14 pct this year

* Renault-Nissan, GM top decliners

* Car sales fall 20 percent in Italy, Spain

PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - France's car market is on course for its worst year since 1997, industry association CCFA said when reporting new car registrations fell 19.2 percent in November.

The market will fall 13-15 percent this year, most likely around 14 percent, the CCFA said on Monday. It had previously expected registrations to fall at least 12 percent.

"That will give us a market that will be below 1.9 million vehicles in 2012, and you need to go back to 1997 to find a worse year," chairman Patrick Blain told reporters.

November declines were led by French group Renault and Japanese partner Nissan, and U.S. automaker General Motors, according to CCFA figures.

Automakers are facing a sustained slump in a European car market hit by the effects of the euro zone debt crisis and government austerity measures.

French registrations fell to 144,694 last month, contributing to an 11-month drop of 13.8 percent, the CCFA said.

Renault group new car registrations fell 33.5 percent, while domestic rival PSA Peugeot Citroen saw a drop of 22.9 percent. Nissan suffered a 29.4 percent decline in November, while U.S. carmakers General Motors and Ford saw decreases of 25.8 percent and 21.4 percent respectively.

German premium carmakers bucked the trend, with Volkswagen's Audi achieving a 1 percent rise, while BMW group had a 4.2 percent rise and Daimler's Mercedes brand saw an 18.5 percent increase.

South Korean company Hyundai was the French market's best performer last month, with a 20.5 percent rise.

France's Latin neighbours also posted gloomy figures on Monday. Spanish car sales fell 20.3 percent to 48,155 in November year-on-year, according to the Anfac trade group.

In Italy, the transport ministry said car sales fell 20.1 percent to 106,491 vehicles, with Fiat's market share steady at 29.7 percent.