Car sales in the European Union slumped further in June, although the pace of decline slowed slightly. Debt-wracked nations are at the center of the industry's troubles.
New registrations for cars in the European Union dropped by 2.8 percent to just over 1.2 million vehicles in June, constituting the ninth consecutive month of declining sales in the 27-nation bloc, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said on Tuesday.
The month-on-month decline added to a sharp 6.8 percent fall in European car sales in the first six months of 2012, resulting in 6.64 million fewer new cars being registered compared with the same half-year period in 2011.
However, the pace of the slump in Europe's car markets was slowing, ACEA said, as June's registration figures had been the best in eight months.
According to the ACEA figures, markets shrank most dramatically in debt-hit eurozone countries such as Greece and Ireland. Sales there were down by more than 41 percent - in Portugal, sales dropped by 37 percent, registrations in Italy slumped by one-fifth.
The overall decline in European new car registrations came despite gains of 0.7 percent and 2.7 percent in Germany and the United Kingdom in the first six months of 2012.
One of the biggest losers in Europe's auto crisis is Opel/Vauxhall - the European subsidiary of US car giant General Motors - which saw sales in the first half of 2012 drop by 15 percent, reducing the company's European market share from 7.6 percent to 6.9 percent.
France's PSA Peugeot Citroen - Europe's second biggest carmaker - also suffered on the back of an 8.6 percent sales decline in June compared with May.
Worst hit in June were the sales of Italy's Fiat group, which slumped 18 percent from the previous month.
German brands reported mixed results for the last month, ranging from gains of 2.8 percent for Volkswagen, to 0.5 percent and 5.7 percent fewer cars sold by BMW and Daimler respectively.
uhe/ng (dpa, Reuters)