Car sales in Western Europe fell by 0.8 percent year-on-year in October, primarily as the result of a 10.8 percent drop in Germany, the region's largest car market. It was the first, albeit small, decline in registrations this year. Total sales were 1.17 million units.
Sales also fell in the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
Still, ACEA, the European automakers' association, delivered an upbeat message.
'In absolute value, the October 1999 result shows a very good performance,' ACEA said in a report. 'October 1999 is still over the average for the month of October during the 1990s.'
It also pointed out that the German car market reached record sales levels in October last year.
In the United Kingdom, sales dropped by 3.6 percent to a shade under 150,000 units. Makers blamed the 'millennium slump' as buyers held off for year 2000 registrations. There is wide belief that consumers there are delaying their purchases in anticipation of price cuts. In spite of the fall, total United Kingdom car sales remain on target for a near-record 2.2 million units for the year.
The cumulative figure for Europe for January-October 1999 shows a growth of 5.6 percent to almost 13 million units compared with the same period last year.
October sales were up in France, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden. But the rate of increase was slower than in previous months.
October sales for French manufacturer PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA climbed 11.9 percent year-on-year to 151,406 units. For the 10-month period, PSA sales increased by 11.9 percent to 1.56 million units.
DaimlerChrysler also turned in a strong performance. Group registrations were up 8.4 percent during October to 73,500 units, and ahead 18.1 percent for 10 months, at 725,587 units.
By contrast, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Renault and Fiat group sales fell year-on-year in October, as did their market shares for the month. On a cumulative basis, however, sales and market shares at VW, GM and Renault were higher.