PARIS – Europe’s auto sales fell 1.8% in October, and a significantly slower market in Germany could herald bigger declines for the last two months of 2011.
Year-to-date, the 27 countries of Europe have registered 11,126,436 new cars, 1.2% less than in like-2010.
Germany, the largest market, has kept Europe’s total sales numbers respectable until now, but its 1% gain in October was well below the 9.8% average growth for the year’s first 10 months.
France, the second-largest market, is up 0.4% for 2011 after a gain of 2% in October.
But the other three big markets remain significantly below like-2010 levels through the first 10 months, with sales down 19.7% in Spain, 10.8% in Italy and 4.5% in the U.K.
Major European economies have been gripped for months in a battle to save the euro after Greece and Italy found themselves with severe debt problems.
Car sales in Greece plunged 35.7% in October while Italy deliveries slipped just 5.5%, an improvement from its 10-month average.
Portugal and Ireland, two other countries severely affected by the debt crisis, saw volumes plummet 40.5% and 51.8%, respectively, in October.
Throughout the European Union, nations are tightening their belts, raising taxes and cutting expenses.
Auto makers largely have remained silent on prospects for 2012, but many already have started temporary shutdowns at vehicle plants to keep stock in line with dwindling demand.
Among manufacturers, the big winners in October are the same as those that have done well all year.Group, up 3.7%, was the only major European player to gain, as Peugeot Citroen, Renault and all suffered declines.
saw sales fall 3.6%, although the auto maker is ahead of year-ago through the first 10 months. was up 5.7% for October, but remains down 3.3% on the year.
Several Asian brands continued their strong gains.and Kia each are up about 10% year-to-date, and Kia sales soared 35.4% in October.
slowed down slightly, with October deliveries up 4.5% while 10-month volume was up 15.8%. Nissan was 150,000 units behind in like-2010. This year, with Toyota sales down 9.1%, Nissan is just 60,000 units behind.
Among luxury brands,and Mercedes both suffered October falloffs, likely affected by the slowdown in Germany. Audi continued its growth streak during the month, while Jaguar failed to break out of its losing streak.
The biggest October luxury winners were small players Land Rover, up 43.9% to 6,186 units on strong sales of the Range Rover Evoque, and Lexus, up 83.4% to 1,803.