French auto sales fall 2% in 2011, 18% drop in December

2nd January 2012, Comments 0 comments

French vehicle sales suffered a two percent drop last year and a dramatic 18-percent fall in December, the CCFA automakers' association said Monday, as the auto sector heads into a difficult year.

Slightly more than 2.2 million vehicles were sold last year, a 2.1 percent drop in comparison with 2010, the CCFA said.

In December, sales were down 17.8 percent year-on-year, it said, as the industry suffered from the withdrawal of an incentive measure that saw buyers of new cars given cash for scrapping older ones.

The annual fall was less than expected, however, after the CCFA had predicted an 8.0 percent drop for 2011. The association made no prediction for 2012 sales.

French automakers suffered most from the fall in sales, with PSA Peugeot Citroen seeing sales recede 4.9 percent last year and Renault registering a drop of 9.6 percent.

Foreign carmakers however saw sales rise 4.9 percent last year, with sales by Renault's Japanese partner Nissan up a massive 32.9 percent, South Korea's Hyundai up 12.4 percent and Germany's Volkswagen up 12.9 percent.

The French auto sector, which accounts directly or indirectly for a quarter of the national workforce, is expected to face an especially difficult year in 2012 as the eurozone economic crisis hits consumer spending.

Analysts have said they expect overall vehicle sales to fall below two million this year while industry chiefs have warned of significant sales drops and major job cuts.

© 2012 AFP

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