Crisis affects Europeans' car buying habits

A survey shows that the economic crisis could be changing the car buying habits of European consumers.

Nearly 40 percent of Europeans who responded to the survey said they are considering doing without one of their cars, more than double the number in a similar poll in 2008.

The survey was based on responses from more than 5,000 people in seven European countries including Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Spain.

Italians topped the list of respondents who said they could give up one of their cars at nearly 55 percent, up from 19 percent in 2008, followed by respondents in Spain (47 percent) and France (40 percent).

Worryingly for automakers, more people in Germany, Europe's biggest market, were this year willing to consider giving up their cars at 29 percent compared with 17 percent in 2008.

Some 83 percent of the respondents said the cost of ownership was the main reason they would give up a car, up from 66 percent in 2008. About 48 percent cited environmental considerations.

Instead of a car, 80 percent of those surveyed said they would turn to public transportation. About half would consider renting a car or car pooling while 35 percent would opt for motor cycles.

The poll's results were published earlier this month. The survey was carried out by the car rental company Europcar and the polling institute Ipsos.

The survey was done only in Western European markets where European carmakers make most of their profits so the trend seems like further bad news for battered car companies.