Weakness In Germany Drags Down Europe's August Car Sales

Ford posts worst sales decline, down 29 percent last month

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Ford Motor Co.'s Emblem
The Canadian Auto Workers will concentrate on the Ford Motor Co. as it attempts to negotiate a collective-bargaining agreement in the roughly 24 hours left before its fast-approaching strike deadline on Monday at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Europe's car sales declined in August at the greatest rate in six months as Germany, the region's largest economy, reported a slowdown, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said Tuesday.

New car registrations fell 8.9 percent to 788,168 in August, down from 755,732 in the prior year. Sales between January and August were down 7.1 percent to 8.2 million from 8.9 million during the same period last year. Germany's car sales, which had been a bright spot earlier this year, fell 4.7 percent.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) had the biggest drop of 29 percent, which it attributed to both seasonal slowdown and lack of discounts.

“August was even slower than usual this year, and there was a lot of short-cycle business and heavy incentives that we decided to largely refrain from,” Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe’s head of marketing, sales and service, said in a statement to the Financial Times.

Fiat SpA (Milan: FI), Italy's largest carmaker, and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest carmaker by sales, both reported new car sales declines of 18 percent. South Korea's Kia Motors Corp. (Korea: 000270) gained 3 percent year-over-year in August, while Jaguar Land Rover Plc, a unit of Tata Motors Ltd. (NYSE: TTM) was up 48 percent.

Italy's sales were down 20.4 percent. France car sales fell 11.4 percent. Spain gained 3.4 percent in sales ahead of a Sept. 1 tax increase, while Britain was flat.

The European automobile market has declined for 11 straight months, and ACEA expects Europe's car sales to fall 7 percent for the year to the lowest level since 1995. Carmakers may begin closing plants in response, but have been urged by politicians to not cut jobs amid the weak regional economy.

Shares of Ford was flat at $10.39 in mid-Tuesday trading. GM gained 26 cents, or 1.09 percent, to $24.06. Tata Motors fell 36 cents, or 1.44 percent to $24.64. Fiat was was down 3.08 percent to 8.32 euros at Tuesday's close. Kia fell by 1.44 percent to 75,600 South Korean won at close.

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