French car sales tumble to 15-year low

PARIS Wed Jan 2, 2013 3:10am EST

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PARIS Jan 2 (Reuters) - French car sales dropped 15 percent in December, the Paris-based CCFA automakers' association said, confirming the worst annual performance in 15 years by the French auto market.

The drop in car registrations last month was led by a 40 percent decline for Ford, the CCFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

French carmaker Renault recorded a 27 percent drop to 30,415 monthly registrations, followed by declines of 20 percent for Germany's Volkswagen Group and 14 percent for Paris-based PSA Peugeot Citroen.

For 2012 as a whole, French car registrations plunged 14 percent to 1.9 million - the lowest annual tally since 1997.

Sales of delivery vans also contracted sharply, plunging 22 percent in December for their biggest monthly decline since the crisis of 2008, CCFA spokesman Francois Roudier said.

"In addition to individual consumers holding back, particularly in the mass market, we're now seeing company fleet sales slowing down," he said.

For the full year, light commercial vehicle sales recorded an 11 percent decline to 384,121 registrations. (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by James Regan)

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