European car sales resumed declining in August as record joblessness caused by a recession in the euro region contributed to falling demand at Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Fiat SpA.
Registrations fell 4.9% to 686,957 vehicles from 722,458 cars a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement.
The drop contrasted with 4.9% growth in July. Eight-month sales declined 5.2% to 8.14 million autos.
The euro zone economy emerged from a record six-quarter recession in the three months through June.
But the continuing high rate of joblessness led car-industry executives at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt a week ago to stick to predictions of a sixth consecutive annual car-market contraction in 2013.
Eight-month sales in the European Union were the lowest since records began in 1990, the ACEA said.
The last time Europe's car market grew in both July and August was in 2007, according to ACEA records.
The trade group releases sales figures for those months simultaneously each September.
The ACEA reports figures for the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Deliveries in western Europe, which excludes countries that have joined the trade bloc since mid-2004, fell 5.3% to 632,825 vehicles in August.
Four of Europe’s five biggest car markets shrank last month. Deliveries in top-ranked Germany dropped 5.5% to 214,044 vehicles. That compared with a 2.1% increase in July. The UK market, the region’s second biggest, expanded 11% to 65,937 cars in August.
European sales by Volkswagen, the region’s largest carmaker, posted an 11% drop in sales last month, dragged down by a 17% plunge at the namesake VW brand. The Audi division, the world’s second-largest maker of upscale vehicles, sold 6.4% fewer cars in Europe.
VW, which relies on luxury cars for more than half of its profits, said last week that it wants mass-market divisions to improve margins while contributing to its target of becoming the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. Skoda and Seat brand sales declined by 4.6% and 3.1% in August, respectively.
Paris-based Peugeot, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, posted an 18% sales drop in the region in August. CEO Philippe Varin forecast at the Frankfurt show on September 10 that there will be “slightly positive growth” in European auto-industry deliveries next year.
European registrations slipped 4.9% at Italy-based Fiat. CEO Sergio Marchionne was a no-show at the Frankfurt show, the biggest industry event in Europe this year.
Renault, which has its headquarters in Paris, outperformed other mass-market carmakers. Regional sales at Europe’s third-largest auto manufacturer gained 5.8% in August. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said last week that the car market may expand slightly more than 1% in 2014.
Ford's European sales decreased 0.9% in August. Stephen Odell, head of the Michigan-based company's business in Europe, said earlier this month that “it does feel like we’re running along the bottom” of the car market contraction.
But Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest luxury- vehicle producer, posted 9.9% more registrations in Europe. Sales in the region at Daimler rose 5.5% as the Mercedes-Benz division, the third-ranked luxury-car maker, reported an 8.5% gain, versus a 24% plunge in demand for two-seat Smart cars.
General Motors’s sales in Europe last month rose 0.7% as an 18% gain by the Chevrolet brand more than offset a 3.4% decline at the Opel division.
European registrations by Japanese manufacturer Toyota., the world’s biggest carmaker, dropped 4% in August. Seoul-based Hyundai's European sales declined 5.3% in August, slowing the company’s market share gains this year.