Car sales in Europe dropped for the sixth straight year in 2013 as the recession in the eurozone bit into consumer budgets. But the prospects for the industry were brighter when compared with the dismal previous years.
The number of new cars registered in the 28-nation European Union slid 1.7 percent in 2013 to a total of 11.8 million vehicles, according to data released by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) on Thursday.
As car sales slumped for the sixth consecutive year, they hit a level last seen in 1995, ACEA said. However, the decline last year was significantly lower than the 8.2-percent fall recorded in 2012, the organization added.
Moreover, sales began to rise again in the last four months of 2013, with the month of December seeing a record upsurge of 13.3 percent alone. This was a sign that the battered car markets of Europe were beginning to stabilize amid rising consumer confidence and improving growth perspectives, ACEA noted.
ACEA data showed that the 2013 performance of EU car markets hugely differed. Britain saw sales surge by almost 11 percent, while struggling eurozone members Italy and France were among the biggest EU laggards plummeting 7.1 and 5.7 percent respectively.
Germany, Europe's largest car market, also posted a decline in sales, down by 4.2 percent.
As far as car manufacturers are concerned, Japan's Mazda fared best in the EU markets last year, lifting registrations of its models by 16.1 percent. Jaguar Land Rover came in second place although on low numbers, climbing 9.7 percent in the year.
EU car majors such as France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and Italy's Fiat, lost considerable market share in 2013, while Europe's biggest carmaker, Germany's Volkswagen, remained largely stable with a decline of just 0.6 percent.
uhe/hc (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)