In the ongoing car crisis in Europe, auto sales in June plummeted to their lowest level since 1996. Major carmakers like BMW expect national car markets in the EU to continue shrinking for at least another year.
Registrations of new cars in the 28-member European Union totaled 1,134,042 in June - a fall of 5.6 percent compared with the same month last year, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said Tuesday.
According to ACEA data, the United Kingdom was the only car market to expand last month as sales grew 13.4 percent. Other major EU markets contracted sharply with auto sales in France slipping most significantly at a rate of 8.4 percent, ahead of Italy, minus 5.5 percent and Germany, down 4.7 percent.
Noting that June sales were the lowest for the month since 1996, ACEA attributed the ongoing sales crisis to high unemployment and a protracted recession in most EU countries.
On Tuesday, BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said he expected the European car crisis to continue well into 2014. Especially markets in Italy, Spain and France would remain tight, he told the German financial newspaper Börsenzeitung.
"Perhaps we'll see a modest recovery in Western Europe in the second half of 2014," he said, adding that in the meantime he expected manufacturers to increasingly resort to discounts and bonuses to maintain sales.
ACEA's latest data underscore that the sales slump in Europe won't improve soon. In the first half of 2013, 6.2 million passenger cars were shipped to customers in Europe, about 6.6 percent fewer than in the same 6-month period last year.
uhe/kms (Reuters, dpa)