* EU Sept registrations down 10.8 pct to 1.10 mln vehicles
* VW down 13.8 pct, Ford down 15 pct, Opel down 16 pct
* EU year-to-date registrations down 7.6 pct at 9.37 mln
* Western Europe Jan-Sept figure down 7.6 pct at 9.15 mln
By Christiaan Hetzner
FRANKFURT, Oct 16 Europe's new car market shrank
at the fastest pace in the past 12 months in September, leaving
nearly all major brands nursing double-digit declines, as tight
household budgets kept drivers away from showrooms.
New car registrations in the European Union dropped 10.8
percent last month to 1.10 million vehicles, data published by
Brussels-based industry group ACEA showed on Tuesday.
The euro zone debt crisis has hit carmakers hard, as
consumers worried about their jobs and government austerity
measures hold off on buying a new set of wheels.
With the slump showing no sign of abating, mass market
carmakers, which have borne the brunt of the downturn, such as
Peugeot, Renault and General Motors' Opel,
are trying to find new ways to cut costs to survive.
The ACEA figures showed even Germany's Volkswagen
brand, which has mostly gained market share in past
months at the expense of its peers, saw a decline of 13.8
percent in September.
"The continuing discussion about the debt crisis has also
left its mark on Germany," auto industry forecaster R.L. Polk &
Co. said in a research note published late on Monday, predicting
western European new car sales would drop by 1 million to just
11.76 million vehicles this year.
So far this year, western Europe's car market has shrunk by
7.6 percent to 9.15 million vehicles, ACEA said, led by declines
in crisis-hit Greece, Portugal and Italy.
The UK was the only major market to post material growth,
benefitting from a twice-yearly change in vehicle registration
"Even assuming that the situation in the EU calms down,
western European new car registrations should decline slightly
(to 11.63 million) in 2013," R.L. Polk said.
Ford and Opel, Europe's second and third
largest brands after VW, respectively, fared no better than VW.
Their sales fell by 15 percent and 16 percent.
Renault had a near 33 percent drop in September, ceding its
title as the largest French brand that month to rival Peugeot.
BMW fared better, posting a near 11 percent
increase in volumes.