Euro Crisis: Car Sales Crash Amid Spending Squeeze
The extent of the effect of the eurozone debt crisis on new car sales across Europe has been laid bare by figures showing the market shrank at its fastest pace for 12 months in September.
Almost all the major brands suffered double-digit declines but, as had been previously reported, only the UK managed to buck the trend largely due to the release of the '62 number plates.
New car registrations in the European Union dropped 10.8% last month to 1.1 million vehicles, according to the industry group ACEA.
UK sales grew by more than 8%.
Tighter household budgets have hit carmakers hard on the continent and many firms such as Peugeot, Renault and General Motors are under pressure to cut their costs further.
Renault suffered particularly in September with sales falling almost 30%, ACEA said.
Opel, part of the General Motors stable which also owns Vauxhall, saw its EU sales decline 16% in the month.
Ford's dropped 15% and even Germany's Volkswagen brand, which has mostly gained market share in past months at the expense of its peers, saw a decline of 13.8%.
So far this year, western Europe's car market has shrunk by 7.6% to 9.15 million vehicles, ACEA said, led by falls in crisis-hit Greece, Portugal and Italy.
BMW fared best, posting a near 11% increase in volumes.
At the lower end of the market, companies such as Hyundai have also been growing sales at the expense of brands such as Renault which is understood to be extending its alliance with Nissan as the industry looks to share resources to help cut costs.
The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Paul Everitt told Sky News: "The drop in new car registrations across Europe is bad news for industry and the government battling difficult economic conditions.
"The positive UK performance this year is based on hard work and slim margins for vehicle manufacturers and their dealer networks.
"It is essential for Europe and the UK that we see a return to sustained economic growth or we risk long-term damage to key industries and future prosperity."