European car sales begin 2019 in reverse

A man cleans a BMW logo on a car before the annual news conference of German premium automaker BMW in Munich in this March 19, 2014 file photo. — Reuters pic
A man cleans a BMW logo on a car before the annual news conference of German premium automaker BMW in Munich in this March 19, 2014 file photo. — Reuters pic

PARIS, Feb 15 — European car sales fell by 4.6 per cent in January from the same month last year, an industry body said today, in another worrying sign of economic slowdown.

“Nevertheless, with nearly 1.2 million units registered in total, this still represents the second‐highest January volume on record since 2009,” the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA) noted.

The EAMA announced earlier this week it expects auto sales to remain stable overall this year at around 15 million vehicles.

However, it warned a hard, no-deal Brexit, could have “very dramatic” consequences for the European car industry.

Recent economic data have shown a troubling slowdown in European economies, with Germany, the continent’s economic motor, having just avoided entering a recession at the end of last year.

Car manufacturing was one reason for the malaise in the German economy, as its carmakers had difficulty meeting emissions tests using new methodology that came into effect in September.

They continued to suffer in January, with Europe’s top carmaker Volkswagen Group seeing a 6.5 per cent drop. Its luxury car sales took a hit, with Porsche sales chopped in half and Audi sales skidding 17 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, BMW saw a 2.7 per cent dip and Mercedes-maker Daimler 1.3 per cent.

French carmakers PSA (Peugeot, Citroen and Opel) and Renault saw dips of 1.9 and 0.7 per cent respectively.

Sales by the Italian-US carmaker FCA, which includes the Fiat and Jeep brands, slumped 14.9 per cent.

The EAMA said demand for new cars fell across almost the entire European Union, including the EU’s five major markets.

Spain and Italy posted the strongest declines, down 8.0 and 7.5 per cent respectively.

The declines were more modest in Britain with a 1.6 per cent drop, in Germany with a 1.4 per cent decline and France with a 1.1 per cent dip. — AFP

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