European car sales 'fall for 12 months in row'

Cars in Italy
Image caption Car sales have seen double-digit falls in some countries

New car sales in the European Union have fallen for the 12th month in a row in September, according to the region's biggest carmakers.

Demand across the 27 European Union countries fell 10.8% from last year.

But of the major markets, the UK was the only one to grow, up 8.2% from the same month last year, said the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Carmakers had 1.1 million new EU registrations last month - with 9.4 million cars sold this year so far.

In September, the major car markets in the eurozone - which is weighed down by recession, spending cuts and high unemployment - fell sharply.

Germany - the largest economy in Europe and one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world - saw its car sales drop 10.9%. France fell by 17.9%, Italy fell by 25.7% and Spain declined by 36.8% from September 2011.

Across the EU as a whole, the 10.8% drop in September is the steepest drop so far in the past 12 months.

'No sign of recovery'

Jay Nagley, managing director at the Spyder Redspy automotive consultancy, told the BBC that car sales had fallen by 4 million a year across Europe since 2007.

"Cars are the ultimate discretionary purchase, in that you can hold on to it for five or six years and hold off buying a new one," he said. "We're nearing the bottom, I think, but the problem for carmakers is that there is no sign of recovery.

"You can't say that next year is going to be better than this year. In some parts of southern Europe, there is no car market anymore."

Sales in Greece - which has been bailed out twice and is in its fifth year of recession - dropped almost 50% from September last year. They are down more than 40% so far in 2012.

From January to September, the EU market shrank by 7.6% compared with 2011.

But the UK again had a positive showing in the year so far - up 4.3% so far this year, compared with double-digit declines in Spain and Italy.

Germany has sold 2.4 million cars so far this year - down 1.8% from the same period last year.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association is made up of 18 European car, truck and bus manufacturers - including premium carmakers such as Germany's BMW and budget manufacturers such as South Korea's Hyundai.

In the UK, shares in car parts maker GKN fell more than 4% after it said a sluggish European automotive market would weigh on its profits for the third quarter of the year.

"Macroeconomic conditions have deteriorated in recent weeks and some softening in order books is now evident, particularly regarding European automotive and industrial markets," it said.

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