Europe’s vehicle deliveries slipped for the third straight month in February, compared with year-ago, for the 24 countries in the region tracked by WardsAuto.

February sales, including light vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty trucks, numbered 1.302 million units, 6.5% less than in like-2011. Deliveries in the year’s first two months totaled 2.634 million, 5.7% fewer units than year-ago’s 2.793 million.

The three countries that were the biggest losers for the month, not surprisingly, also were among those with major sovereign debt: Greece, Italy and Portugal.

Italy, the fourth-largest market in the region, recorded a 20.0% year-over-year decline in February. Portugal’s vehicles sales plunged 52.4%, while Greece was down 45.5%, dropping their combined shares to 0.9% this year and 1.7% in 2011.

Vehicle deliveries in France tumbled 18.5%, while the country’s share fell from prior-year’s 17.5% to 15.2%. The loss caused the nation’s ranking among the 24 countries to slip to No.3 after temporarily regaining the No.2 slot from Russia in January.

France dropped to third in 2011 behind Russia after two consecutive years as the second-largest European market.

Turkey also recorded a large vehicle-sales downturn from prior-year of 31.6% following a similar shortfall of 33.0% in January. Germany, the largest market in the region, saw deliveries slip 0.7% in February, but its market penetration grew to 18.9% from 17.8% in like-2011.

Several countries posted vehicles sales gains in the month, led by Russia’s 24.5% spike, which left its year-to-date 2012 results up 23.3%. Russia’s market penetration shot up to 16.7% in February from January’s 12.1% and year-ago’s 12.5%.

Other market gainers included the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.

hstoddard@wardsauto.com