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UPDATE 1-German car sales fell 2.9 pct in 2012
January 3, 2013 / 11:51 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-German car sales fell 2.9 pct in 2012

* 2012 new car registrations 3.08 million

* Lowest level since 2010’s 2.92 million

* December sales down 16 percent

* VDIK says 2013 sales could match 2012 level (Adds further details, background)

FRANKFURT, Jan 3 (Reuters) - German auto sales fell 2.9 percent in 2012 to their lowest level in two years, in line with a trend of weaker car demand in other key markets in Europe.

New car registrations in Europe’s biggest economy dropped 16 percent to 204,000 in the final month of the year, leading to a decline in full-year sales to 3.08 million, Germany’s VDIK association of car importers said on Thursday.

Germany - home to car brands like Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes - has been holding up relatively well in the euro zone’s debt crisis, helped by a resilient labour market and higher consumer confidence, while car markets in weaker southern European economies continue to suffer from budget cuts, tax hikes and joblessness.

But Europe’s biggest car market has still felt the ripple effects of the single currency zone’s problems, with manufacturers’ increasingly offering discounts to encourage buyers.

Car sales in France, Spain and Italy in 2012 fell to the lowest level in years, with December registration data underscoring the challenges facing the broader European economy.

German annual car sales are seen falling further next year, though the VDIK said the market could still stabilise.

“If the economic situation stabilises and existing consumption extends to the car market, then the VDIK believes new car registrations of more than 3 million to as much as the 2012 level are possible,” VDIK President Volker Lange said in a statement.

Last month, German automotive association VDA warned new car sales in the country could fall to the second-lowest level in more than two decades next year as the euro zone debt crisis hurts demand. (Reporting by Edward Taylor and Maria Sheahan; Editing by Mark Potter)

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