European Auto Sales Continue to Drop in January image

In January auto sales extended their declines in Spain and France, which means that a rebound of the auto market is not anywhere near.

“The French passenger car market started 2013 on as weak a note as it exited 2012,” London-based Credit Suisse analyst David Arnold said in a note.

VW and the US automaker led a 15% fall in French registrations, reaching their lowest level over the past 15 years. Declines in Europe only suggest that automakers will have to reduce vehicle output by 7% more in 2013. In 2012 auto sales in Europe dropped to the lowest level in the past 17 years, as the increasing unemployment levels discouraged big purchases.

Renault and Nissan predict that recovery in Europe will not be seen in the following four years, as Germany only recently began to feel the negative impact of the crisis. Renault’s domestic sales fell 7.4%, a number which would have been lower hadn’t it been for the gain posted by the low-cost Dacia brand. PSA Peugeot Citroen, which already announced it will cut 10,000 jobs in France, posted a drop of 16.7%.

“Demand is still very weak for small and medium-sized cars and minivans,” said Francois Roudier of the CCFA industry association.