BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Renault SA, Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG felt the pinch as European sales of new cars dropped 1.5 percent in September, largely due to a slide in German sales figure from a year ago.
Carmakers' association ACEA said Tuesday that the German car market, Europe's largest, slipped by 11 percent compared with September 2006, when show rooms were thronged with car buyers trying to cash in before a Jan. 1 sales tax hike.
Other major car markets grew slowly or not at all, failing to compensate for Germany's poor performance.
The major loser among carmakers was France's troubled Renault, which saw sales plunge 11.3 percent. Japanese Toyota was down 7.2 percent, while Volkswagen AG, Europe's best-selling car company, fell 6.8 percent and lost market share to take 18 percent of all new cars sold.
France's Peugeot, the No. 2 seller in the region, also saw sales slump by 3.5 percent.
But the next-placed Ford Motor Corp. rose modestly by 1.1 percent, while General Motors Corp. gained more strongly with sales up 6.3 percent. Italy's Fiat SpA kept up its recovery by expanding 4.2 percent.
Luxury carmakers also did well. Daimler Group, which makes Mercedes, grew 5.7 percent with even its slow-
selling small Smart cars picking up sales. BMW AG grew a modest 3.7 percent as Minis surged by nearly 40 percent.
Overall, some 1.44 million cars were sold throughout Europe in September. ACEA said sales fell in Western Europe, but grew by almost one-tenth in the smaller and poorer nations in eastern Europe that joined the European Union in 2004.
Spain worsened by 7.7 percent as its economy slowed.
Sales were up only slightly — 1.3 percent — in Britain, the second-biggest car market after Germany, and were flat at 0.2 percent in Italy. France rose 3.2 percent.
The ACEA's sales figures count new car registrations from 23 EU nations — excluding the island nations of Cyprus and Malta — as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.