EU car registrations reach record low image

New car registrations in the European Union fell to a record low, because of weak demand in several key markets, including Germany.

“New registrations amounted to 885,159 units, reaching a historic low recorded for a month of January since the start of the series in 1990,” the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, announced on Tuesday.

In Germany, new registrations dropped 8.6 percent from the compared to January 2012. Registrations were also down 15 percent in France, nearly 18 percent in Italy, and 9.6 percent in Spain. However, markets like the UK and Belgium posted registration gains of nearly 12 percent and 13 percent respectively, but their gains couldn’t offset weakness elsewhere.

Most car manufacturers also recorded a drop in registrations in January, with the exception of BMW AG, whose registrations were up 6.4 percent from January 2012, and Daimler (+3.7 percent). Registrations for Europe’s largest carmaker, Volkswagen AG, fell 5.5 percent from a year earlier, while registrations of GM cars fell 5.2 percent (even though Opel registrations were up 4.3 percent. Ford’s new registrations plunged nearly 26 percent in January.

The drop in January registrations is the latest blow to European car manufacturers, which are restructuring their activities to cope with persistent weak demand.

Source: Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)