March 2013 European Autos Sales: No End In Sight For Europe's Economic Woes

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The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association released its latest monthly figures on Wednesday, and they aren’t pretty.

Passenger car registrations in the 27-nation European Union bloc, a key indicator of auto sales and European consumer sentiment, slumped 9.8 percent in the first three months of the year, and they were down 10.2 percent in March compared to last year, to 1.3 million vehicles.

Vehicle registrations in the regional powerhouse Germany fell 17.1 percent, in line with the latest ZEW indicator showing declining economic sentiment among the country’s financial market experts. Germany had been one of the few shining lights to a dim broader outlook, but now that appears to have come to an end. Sales in France fell 16.2 percent while Britain saw a modest uptick of 4.9 percent.

Here’s how four of the world’s biggest automakers fared last month in the EU:

Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW3), Europe’s top vehicle seller: down 9 percent.
PSA Peugeot Citroen SA (EPA:UG), Europe’s No. 2 seller: down 16 percent.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F): down 15.8 percent.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM): down 12.6 percent.

Analysts have been saying for months that European auto sales will continue to decline this year, possibly hitting a two-decade low.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic automakers are breaking sales records.

Also this month: the International Monetary Fund revised downward its expectations for the 17-member euro zone, from a 0.2 percent decline in gross domestic product to 0.3 percent shrinkage.

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