Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

European Car Sales at 17-Year Low as UK Bucks the Trend

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

European Car Sales at 17-Year Low as UK Bucks the Trend

Article excerpt

Byline: Russell Lynch

RECORD unemployment drove European car sales to a 17-year low as the head of German giant BMW said the pain could last for another year.

Registrations of new cars across the 27-member European Union sank 5.6% year on year to 1.13 million, the lowest since 1996 the European Automobile Manufacturing Association (AMEA) said today. The UK was the only major market to register growth.

Car sales have been hit by the lingering problems in the eurozone that have put it in recession for six straight quarters and sent unemployment rocketing to a record 12.2% in May as members adjust to painful austerity programmes.

The UK remains the strongest European market, with sales up more than 13% on last year, fuelled by billions in payment protection insurance payouts to consumers and easing credit conditions for car loans. Drivers are also replacing cars bought through the Government's scrappage scheme.

The gloomy figures came as BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer told a German newspaper the situation in western Europe was "still difficult", and he expects the wider market to shrink by about 5% this year. …

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