German new car sales keep shrinking: data
The number of new cars sold in Europe's top market, Germany, fell by 10.5 percent in February compared with the same month a year earlier to 200,683 vehicles, the German transport office KBA said on Monday.
The figures were released at the Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland and showed that the annualised decline was sharper than the fall of nine percent in January.
On a monthly basis however, February saw a modest improvement, as German car sales were 4.5 percent higher than in January.
The hardest-hit automakers last month were the French group PSA Peugeot-Citroen, with a 40.6 percent year-on-year fall, followed by Opel, a German unit of General Motors, which saw a 21.2 percent decline, and Ford, with a decrease of 19.4 percent.
Volkswagen's sales fell by 14.0 percent.
Renault and Hyundai, meanwhile, each saw an increase of 3.4 percent.
The compact car sector did best, with sales growing by 20.6 percent, while larger models suffered a significant drop, the KBA data showed.
After a rebound in October, German car sales have declined progressively on an annual basis.
For 2012 as a whole, they fell by 3.05 percent to 3.08 million models.
Matthias Wissmann, head of Germany's VDA automakers' federation, underlined that the market gloom was part of overall weak demand elsewhere in Western Europe.
German auto exports fell by 10 percent in February to 358,200 models, and production was off by eight percent at 466,100.
Wissmann told reporters in Geneva that 2013 was set to be a tough year for the domestic sector.
Germany's market is nonetheless in better shape than that of other European countries.
In France, new car registrations fell by 12.1 percent in February, and in Italy they were down by 17.4 percent.
In crisis-stricken Spain, a government aid plan helped limit the fall to 9.8 percent.
Globally, Wissmann said, the auto sector nonetheless still had reasons for optimism.
Worldwide demand was expected to rise by two percent this year, for example.
The major drivers are China, with a forecast six percent increase in sales to 14 million units, and the United States, with an estimated five percent rise to 15.2 million.
European sales were expected to fall by three percent this year to 11.5 million vehicles however.
© 2013 AFP