European light-vehicle sales fell 1.7 percent in May compared with May 2004, failing to gain momentum despite increases in three major markets because of a strike in Italy.
European sales fell to 1,290,933 million units, compared with 1,312,684 in May 2004. Through May, European sales were 6,640,799 units, down 2.4 percent from the first five months of 2004, according to ACEA, the vehicle-makers' association in Brussels.
The May decline came despite a 6.2 percent year-to-year increase in Germany, an 8.4 percent gain in France and a jump of 7.1 percent in Spain.
Italian sales plunged 27.9 percent in May compared with the May 2004 total, largely because of a monthlong strike by car transporters.
Sales in the old European Union markets, plus nonmember countries Iceland, Norway and Switzerland - were down only 1.4 percent for the year to date.
In the new member nations - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - sales for the five months were down 19.5 percent from the first five months of 2004.
Among the major automakers, Volkswagen AG was up 3.7 percent in May because of strong sales at Audi. Audi has several new vehicles, including the A3 subcompact. Audi sales were up 17.2 percent in May compared with May 2004.
Volkswagen AG leads the market in year-to-date sales with 1,213,791 units, despite being down 0.3 percent from the first five months of 2004. France's PSA Group is second with 929,685 units, down 4.2 percent from the first five months of 2004.
At the BMW Group, May sales were up 23.0 percent. BMW AG, whose bread-and-butter 3-series car was replaced, was up 22.7 percent from May 2004.
Ford Motor Co. was down 3.3 percent in May. Only Ford's Land Rover brand had an increase in sales. Ford Division was down 1.7 percent.
General Motors also was down in May, off 1.9 percent from May 2004. Only GM's U.S. imports were up, rising 27.5 percent.
DaimlerChrysler sales were down 10.3 percent in May.
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