* Registrations fall to 686,957 cars in August - ACEA
* Peugeot has 18 pct drop in August registrations
PARIS, Sept 17 European car sales fell 4.9
percent last month, the Association of European Carmakers said
on Tuesday, as PSA Peugeot Citroen lost more ground to
premium and Asian rivals.
Registrations fell to 686,957 cars in August, a slow holiday
month, as sales slid further in France, Italy and Germany,
taking the European decline for January-August to 5.2 percent.
"Downturn prevailed across significant markets," the
association said in a statement, with the UK alone posting
strong growth of 10 percent.
Automotive forecasters and industry executives are hoping
tentatively to see European auto demand bottom out and stabilise
after what is set to be a sixth straight year of declines to a
The August contraction was in line with the 5.3 percent
combined western European sales decline announced by national
industry bodies earlier in the month.
Paris-based Peugeot led the fall, with an 18 percent drop in
registrations that eroded its market share to 11 percent for the
first eight months, down almost a percentage point year-on-year.
Italy's Fiat dropped 4.9 percent, in line with
overall demand. Market leader Volkswagen fell 11
percent, weighed down by declining sales at its namesake brand.
VW's German luxury peers have increased their sales, partly
at the expensed of European volume brands.
BMW registrations jumped 9.9 percent in August and
were little changed for the first eight months, lifting the
group's market share for the period.
That compared with a 0.5 percentage point gain for Daimler
, powered by Mercedes-Benz sales that rose 8.5 percent
in August and 5.5 percent for the year so far.
VW's Audi, the weakest European performer of the three
German premiums, still increased share in January-August with a
3.6 percent dip in sales, less than the market decline. August
registrations were down 6.4 percent.
Renault also bucked the trend with a 5.8 percent
gain in August and a modest 2.2 percent decline for the first
eight months, saved by strong sales of its Dacia no-frills cars.
South Korea's Hyundai and affiliate Kia, whose
combined deliveries fell 4.7 percent last month, have also won
business from their European mass-market rivals.
"What we're seeing right now in the European car industry is
a squeezed middle," Hyundai Europe chief Allan Rushforth said in
an emailed statement.
"German premium brands are coming down through the market
while Hyundai is moving up (and) making life very difficult for
European volume brands rooted in the mainstream."
Hyundai-Kia limited their sales decline this year to 1.3
percent, resisting the worst of the slump.
Renault's Japanese affiliate Nissan and the Toyota
brand also declined by less than the broader market.