European car sales dropped for a seventh consecutive month, with Fiat SpA, Toyota and Renault SA posting the biggest declines.
In April, 1,017,912 new passenger vehicles were registered in the EU, or 6.9% less than in the same month of 2011. From the beginning of the year ( Jan – April ) new registrations were 7.5% lower in the EU than a year earlier, adding up to 4,332,342 units, ACEA reports.
No calendar effect occurred as the month counted the same number of working days as in April 2011 throughout the region.
April: UK (+3.3%), Germany (+2.9%), France (-1.9%), Italy (-18.0%), Spain (-21.7%).
From January to April, Germany (+1.8%) and the UK (+1.4%) sustained demand in the region while the rest of the major markets faced contractions ranging from -7.0% in Spain to -17.5% in France and -20.2% in Italy.
Toyota, PSA Peugeot Citroen and BMW re forecasting that the region’s auto market will contract about five percent this year, the fifth consecutive annual decline, as the sovereign-debt crisis prompts consumers to rein in spending.
Europe in red area
The euro zone just avoided recession in early 2012 but the region’s debt crisis sapped the life out of the French and Italian economies and widened a split with paymaster Germany. Both are deep in the red and heavily dependent on credit markets to stay afloat. And their debts are held by Europe’s big banks.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, was behind the better-than-expected performance as strong export figures helped it grow by 0.5 percent — equal to the U.S.’s economic performance.
European banks worried about their holdings of the debt are cutting back on lending, and consumers and businesses are being forced by conditions to cut back on spending as well. Eurozone unemployment has hit a record 10.9% at the same time unemployment is falling steadily in the United States.
In an expression of the uncertainty, European stock markets closed at their lowest levels of the year, while the dollar value of a euro sank to less than $1.28.