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Auto Industry

European car sales hit all-time low in January

Never before have so few cars been sold in a single month in the European Union than in January 2013. As crisis-hit European consumers shun major expenses, some of the continent's carmakers face an uncertain future.

Last month, the number of new cars registered in the 27-nation European Union slumped 8.7 percent to 885,159 vehicles, according to figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) on Tuesday.

The year-on-year drop by about 84,000 passenger cars meant that car sales in the EU had reached a historic low for a single month since ACEA first took records in 1990, the association said.

ACEA data showed that virtually all of Europe's main car markets were affected by declining sales, except the United Kingdom which reported an increase in new car registration by about 11 percent.

European car market in crisis

In Germany, which is the EU's biggest car market, demand contracted by 8.6 percent to 192,000 vehicles.

However, January sales figures were even worse in Italy - down 17.6 percent - to be followed by France and Spain which reported declines of 15.1 and 9.6 percent, respectively.

France's PSA Peugeot group took the biggest hit from slumping car sales as it sold 16.3 percent fewer vehicles than a year ago. Italy's Fiat carmaker also suffered disproportionately from the prolonged European car crisis as it saw sales figures decline by about 12 percent.

By contrast, Asian automakers, notably South Korea's Kia Motors, as well as Japan's Honda and Mazda groups, were able to increase their sales in January. Also on the up were German luxury carmakers Daimler and BMW with increases of 3.7 and 6.6 percent, respectively.

uhe/kms (Reuters, dpa)

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