BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Europe's spending slowdown hit new car sales in January, hurting automakers Peugeot Citroen, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., the European carmakers' group ACEA said Friday.
Europeans bought 0.3 percent fewer cars from a year ago. An increase in sales in Germany failed to outweigh slipping sales in Italy, France, Britain and Spain.
ACEA blamed the global credit crisis for hurting spending and confidence, although economists have also blamed higher prices for energy and essential foods such as milk, cheese and bread.
Consumers in Germany, the EU's largest economy, buy more cars than anyone else and new car sales surged 10 percent last month — the second highest sales volume in the last five years.
The region's most popular manufacturer, Volkswagen AG, saw sales increase 0.6 percent. Sales at luxury producers BMW AG rose 13.2 percent and at Daimler they rose 7.7 percent.
Peugeot, Europe's No. 2, was down 3.2 percent, Ford fell 3.5 percent and GM slipped 0.9 percent. Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. dropped 10.5 percent.
The 10 eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004 saw sales grow by a fifth _ although the total was less than the number of cars sold in Spain, the smallest of the EU's major car-buying nations.
Overall, some 1.3 million cars left European showrooms last month. ACEA's sales figures count new car registrations from 23 EU nations — excluding the island nations of Cyprus and Malta — and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.