Autos sales in Europe plunge to lowest level in two decades

Auto sales in Europe fell to their lowest level in 20 years last month, a sign that analysts  said represents the depth of the economic malaise spreading across the continent.

Sales of new passenger cars declined 5.9% in the European Union compared with the same month a year earlier to just 1 million vehicles, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Assn. That was the lowest since May 1993 when new auto sales dipped below 1 million.

Through the first five months of this year, the industry has sold just under 5.1 million autos, a 6.8% decline from the same period last year. The report covers 27 European nations.

The downturn included a 2.6% dip in Spain, 8% in Italy, 9.9% in Germany and 10.4% in France. England was the only country to post growth, an 11% gain.

Car sales are expected to continue to fall in Western Europe for the rest of this year, said John Hoffecker, who heads the automotive practice for the AlixPartners consulting firm.

“Flat is the new up in Western Europe,” said Hoffecker. “Our models show Western European sales reaching a bottom of 12 million units in 2014, and largely remaining there for the foreseeable future -- far from the historical peak of 2007, when 16.8 million units were sold. On the other side of the coin, however, Central and Eastern Europe will continue to grow, adding about 2 million vehicles in the next five years.”

He said 58% of the top 100 car factories in Europe are now operating a below a level where they can break even.


Car leases hit record levels

Price cuts spur electric car demand

Taxpayers could lose $10 billion on GM bailout

Follow me on Twitter (@LATimesJerry), Facebook and Google+.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Classic cars race at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

    Classic cars race at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

    Races are just one element of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a three-day event that pits about 540 classic and vintage street and racing cars against one another. The cars are grouped into classes based on marque, engine size and era. Read more: Car collectors race pricey vintage vehicles

  • The 10 worst cars sold in America

    The 10 worst cars sold in America

    The 2001 Pontiac Aztek, the 1987 Yugo, the 1958 Edsel Corsair -- here's one list of the top 10 worst cars. What do you think?