European downturn continues – August car sales slump in all major markets image

The big picture is still grim, even though everyone expected this August to be a low volume month – due to the summer vacations. Still, all major European markets posted lower numbers than in 2012.

Registrations fell in Germany, France, Italy and Spain as hopes that the slump in Europe’s car sales was flattening out after some positive news in July begin to fade away. Still, its best not to extrapolate just by judging from the results this month.

Registrations in Germany were down 5.5% to 214,044 units last month, the country’s Federal Transport Agency said today. Eight-month German sales are down 7% to 1.97 million.

Industry association VDA president Matthias Wissmann emphasized that domestic orders kept growing by 2% in August following a 3-percent gain in July while passenger-car production was up 9% to 397,150 autos, helped by demand for premium brands.

German car sales were up 2.1% in July, thanks to higher premium auto sales and an extra working day. Italy’s monthly drop of 2% in July was the smallest year-on-year since April 2011, while in France registrations rose by 1%, the first increase in almost two years, and Spain’s July car sales increased 15%. European car sales fell to a 20-year low in the first half and are in their fifth year of decline as consumers delay new purchases until the economy improves.