European car sales slow down to 20-year low in May
European car sales hit a 20-year low in May as the continent-wide unemployment crisis reduced demand at the likes of PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault, Fiat and General Motors, which makes Opel.
New car registrations dropped 5.9pc, 1.08 million vehicles from 1.15 million a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), said.
Deliveries in Germany dropped 9.9pc. Sales declined 10pc in France, 8pc in Italy and 2.6pc in Spain.
Demand in the UK rose 1pc, however. Car sales hit the lowest monthly level since 1993.
The ACEA compiles data for the 27-nation EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.
Peugeot, Renault, Fiat and GM's deliveries of new vehicles all fell at least 10pc in Europe.
Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen saw a 2.8pc decline in sales in the region last month – its Audi division sold 3.9pc fewer cars.
Rival BMW sold 6.6pc fewer cars in Europe in May. Ford's European sales fell 0.5pc in May. The manufacturer, which is forecasting a loss of $2bn (€1.5bn) in Europe for 2013, said this week that it is counting on new models such as the EcoSport compact sport-utility vehicle to help reduce reliance on low-margin sales to rental-car companies in the region.
"We have to wait at least five years until the car market will basically recover," Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Centre for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
Auto-industry executives are forecasting that the European car market will shrink for the sixth year in a row in 2013, with a possible recovery starting by the final quarter.
Group European registrations at Paris-based Peugeot, the region's second-biggest carmaker, dropped 13pc in May.
Renault reported a 10pc drop. European sales fell 11pc at both GM and Italy-based Fiat.