FRANKFURT Jan 16 Europe's new car market shrank
in December at its fastest monthly pace since October 2010,
closing a year burdened by heavy declines in all major euro zone
Two fewer working days on average helped send new car
registrations in the European Union tumbling 16.3 percent last
month to 799,407 vehicles, according to data published on
Wednesday by the European automotive industry association ACEA.
The figures highlight the crisis for automakers in Europe,
where over-indebted banks will not lend cash-strapped consumers
the funds to buy new cars as austerity pushes joblessness to a
record high of almost 12 percent.
Exceptions last month were non-euro zone EU members such as
Britain and Sweden, where demand increased. But states not even
in the EU like Switzerland and Norway suffered contractions.
Annual car sales volumes in the EU fell 8.2 percent to 12.05
million vehicles in 2012, the ACEA said. In the euro zone, they
dropped 11.3 percent to just under 9 million, according to
For 2013, market forecaster LMC Automotive recently
estimated a 3.1 percent drop in western European sales to 11.4
million vehicles, compared with levels of around 12.8 and 13
million in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Among the worst hit last month were U.S. carmakers General
Motors and Ford, where group sales each fell
roughly 27 percent, with the Chevrolet brand leading them all
lower and posting an even weaker month than its ailing sister
Even Volkswagen's sales of its core VW brand
fell 22 percent. The December plunge at its luxury brand Audi
nearly matched that.
Korean brands Hyundai and Kia
remained a rare bright spot, gaining 10.5 percent and 6.8
percent respectively. The duo have made a name for themselves
with attractively designed affordable cars that enjoy long
The worst monthly decline in recent years was the 27 percent
drop in January 2009, while the worst annual contraction was
1993's slide of 16.9 percent.