EU car sales slump to lowest level in 20 years
European car sales slumped to their lowest six-months total in 20 years in the first half of 2013, with a 6.3pc drop in June suggesting no let-up for an industry battered by overcapacity and weak demand.
European automakers have been suffering for months from the effects of record unemployment and government austerity measures in the eurozone, with some such as Peugeot seeking to close factories and lay off workers to counter heavy losses.
Italy's Fiat saw the biggest drop in sales among major manufacturers last month, suffering a 13.6pc slide, followed by a 10.9pc fall at France's Peugeot, while Ford bucked the trend with a 6.9pc rise.
"Even if there is a recovery in the second half of the year, it's hard to see how it could be strong enough to offset the bad results we've registered so far this year," said Quynh-Nhu Huynh, economics and statistics director at the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), which compiled the figures.
Norbert Reithofer, chief executive of Germany's BMW, said in a newspaper interview yesterday that he did not expect a rebound in western European markets until at least the middle of next year.
ACEA said car registrations in European Union countries plus those in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) fell 6.7pc in the first half year to 6,436,743, the lowest six-monthly total since 1993.
Sales in June were the lowest for that month since 1996.
Nonetheless, some analysts were encouraged that sales fell at a slower pace than in many previous months.