PARIS May 2 France's car sales decline slowed
down in April to a 5.2 percent drop, data published on Thursday
showed, raising hopes that demand may be about to stabilise.
April registrations fell to 157,859 cars last month, the
Paris-based CCFA industry association said, with sales for the
first four months down 12.3 percent.
The slump in demand slowed from a 16.4 percent drop in
"The plunge seems to be halting after the double-digit
declines of previous months," CCFA spokesman Francois Roudier
In Italy, the outlook worsened. Italian car sales fell 10.8
percent in April, figures released on Thursday showed,
confirming the gloomy outlook for Europe's fourth-largest car
"If this trend continues, we could end the year at 1.1
million units, which would mean a decline in revenue for the
sector of 15.9 billion euros," Italian car dealers' association
Federauto said in a statement.
Italian car sales are currently seen at about 1.3 million in
After five years of European market contraction, carmakers
are watching for signs of a pickup they expect later in 2013.
Many have based recovery strategies on a market decline no
bigger than 5 percent for the full year, helped by easier
comparisons with a weak second half of 2012.
"When do we bottom? Not this month," Credit Suisse analyst
David Arnold said in a note to investors.
An additional day of French sales in April masked a bigger
underlying slump, he said. "Adjusting for selling days, the
decline is more severe."
French car sales fell 9.7 percent when corrected for such
calendar effects, the CCFA said. Nonetheless, the numbers mark
the first decline of less than 10 percent for six months.
PSA Peugeot Citroen lost further domestic market
share in April as the struggling carmaker's sales dropped 12.1
French peer Renault outperformed rivals with a
more modest drop of 2.8 percent. A surge in sales of its
low-cost Dacia models took the sting out of a 7.5 percent drop
for the core Renault brand.
Fiat recorded a 4.6 percent rise in registrations,
led by a 15.5 percent rebound in sales by the namesake brand
spurred by new versions of its 500 small car.
Volkswagen also defied the slump with a 4.4
percent advance helped by its updated Golf compact.
South Korea's Hyundai and affiliate Kia
posted a combined 17.3 percent gain.
General Motors sales fell 18.8 percent and Ford
tumbled 16.8 percent.
French delivery van sales fell 4.1 percent in April, the
CCFA said, limiting the overall light vehicle registrations
decline to 5 percent.