* French car sales down 18.7 percent in October
* Spanish car sales fall 37.6 percent in October
* German car sales continued to fall in Oct - source
* Italy car sales fall 28.82 percent in October
* US October sales running at up about 28 pct so far (Adds partial U.S. sales results)
By Robert Hetz and Helen Massy-Beresford
MADRID/PARIS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - French and Spanish car sales plunged in October as Spain continued to suffer from the end of a scrappage scheme and France’s reduced subsidy was not enough to prevent a drop versus the strong sales this time last year.
The subsidies launched to encourage drivers to trade in old cars were highly successful but carmakers are now facing tough comparisons with the booming sales last year when schemes boosted sales.
In the United States, Hyundai 005380.KS, Kia 000270.KS, Volkswagen VOWG.DE, BMW BMWG.DE, Audi NSUG.DE, Subaru 7270.T and Porsche PSHG_p.DE all said on Tuesday that October sales rose from a year earlier in line with expectations that the industry would report its strongest U.S. monthly sales rate of 2010.
Automakers representing about 15 percent of the U.S. market reported sales on Tuesday, a U.S. election day. Collectively their sales were up 28.5 percent from a year earlier.
Most automakers, including the top five by sales volume, will report U.S. light vehicle sales on Wednesday.
Spain’s car scrappage scheme ended at the start of July, coinciding with an increase in value-added tax. Spanish car sales fell 37.6 percent year-on-year in October, industry association ANFAC said.
France has a 500 euro ($697) scrapping bonus in place until the end of 2010. Sales fell 18.7 percent in October to 171,449 units and have fallen 1.4 percent over the first 10 months of the year.
In Germany, Europe’s biggest car market, new car registrations continued to shrink in October, after falling almost 18 percent in September, a source familiar with the figures told Reuters.
European carmakers are increasingly relying on fast-growing emerging markets to boost sales. On Monday South Korean and Indian carmakers posted strong October sales, but Japanese automakers saw double-digit declines in domestic sales.
Italian car sales fell 28.82 percent in October, to 139,740 units, according to the Transport Ministry. Reuters calculations showed Fiat FIA.MI had a 27.47 percent market share last month, below its target of 30 percent.
“Only in the major crisis of 1993 and in the darkest period of the current crisis -- from the end of 2008 to the beginning of 2009 -- have steeper falls been recorded,” said industry think tank Promotor in a statement.
In France, “(October) was bad, but we were expecting it because we are starting to enter the period in which 2009 saw its figures inflated by the scrapping incentive,” said a spokesman for industry association CCFA.
“November and December sales figures will be even worse,” he said. However, the French market should see sales of more than 2 million units for the full year, the spokesman added.
Sales in France rose 10.7 percent to 2.3 million units in 2009 as customers flocked to showrooms toward year end to take advantage of a full 1,000 euro scrapping scheme before it decreased at the start of 2010.
“With the end of scrapping schemes, the French and European markets are returning to their fundamentals, and these are not dynamic,” said Flavien Neuvy, head of the automobile industry research department at French consumer credit organisation Cetelem.
Neuvy added: “The question is no longer how the end of the year will turn out, but what 2011 will be like.”
In Belgium, which never had a scrappage scheme, car sales rose 9.68 percent in October. ($1 = 0.7172 Euro) (Reporting by Helen Massy-Beresford, Gilles Guillaume, Christiaan Hetzner, Robert Hetz and David Bailey; Editing by Hans Peters, Elaine Hardcastle and Matthew Lewis)