German new-car sales down 8.6% in January
MUNICH -- New-car registrations in Germany dropped 8.6 percent to 192,090 in January, the KBA federal transport agency said on Monday, continuing the sales slide in major European markets.
The decline was less than in France, Spain and Italy. The VDIK importers association said growth in the crossover and SUV segments stabilized the market somewhat last month.
Demand may pick up in the coming weeks as Europe's largest economy bounces back from contraction last year, VDIK said in a statement. "Despite the weak start to the year, we believe a full-year volume of more than 3 million vehicles for 2013 is still possible," VDIK President Volker Lange said. Some 3.17 million new vehicles were registered in Germany last year, down 2.9 percent on the year before.
The Center of Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisburg-Essen said a possible rebound in sales would reflect broad-based discounting by manufacturers and dealers.
"The German auto market will become a buyers' paradise in the coming months," CAR's Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said in a report published on Monday.
CAR's monthly index of special offers and discounts granted by dealers and carmakers reached the highest January level since CAR began publishing the index seven years ago.
Other European markets reported sales declines last month as austerity-squeezed household budgets and unemployment fears discourage big purchases.
In France, registrations fell 15 percent to 124,952, their lowest January level in 15 years, while sales in recession-hit Italy were down 17.6 percent to 113,525 vehicles. Spain's sales dropped 9.6 percent despite support from sales subsidies of 2,000 euros ($2,700) per car reintroduced in October by the government and industry.
Last year, full-year sales in the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland declined 7.8 percent to 12.5 million, the lowest level since 1995.
Renault is not counting on a European recovery in the next three to four years, CEO Carlos Ghosn told an industry conference in Bochum last week held by CAR.
Reuters contributed to this report
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