European passenger-car registrations slumped 25 percent in September as the microchip shortage squeezed the supply of vehicles to dealerships.
Sales of new cars were 972,723 in the European Union, U.K. and EFTA markets, the lowest for the month since 1995, data from industry association ACEA showed on Friday.
The industry group ACEA largely attributes the decline to the semiconductor shortage, which has led to production stoppages at car factories.
The September sales plunge puts the industry on course to come up short of last year's disastrous showing amid COVID-19 lockdowns that closed many dealerships.
After three consecutive declines, sales in Europe have fallen in more months than they have risen this year.
Market researchers now expect sales to be down this year after optimism in early 2021 when ACEA predicted growth of about 10 percent.
"We currently forecast that this year will not eclipse the desperately weak 2020 result," LMC Automotive said in a report. "Our assumption is that sourcing issues will be with us throughout next year and continue to undermine the connection between positive underlying demand drivers and new-vehicle sales."
All major European markets recorded double-digit declines in September, with sales in the U.K. down 35 percent, Italy shrinking by 33 percent, Germany down 26 percent and France down 21 percent.