German, French and Italian car sales fall in August

FRANKFURT -- New-car sales in Germany, France and Italy all fell slightly in August, a seasonally weak vacation month throughout Europe, while Spain's subsidy-led recovery continued.

Passenger-car registrations in Germany dropped by 0.4 percent to 213,092 vehicles, partly because the same month a year earlier had one more working day, the Federal Transport Agency (KBA) said today. Through August, German registrations increased 3 percent to 2.02 million vehicles, it said.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA industry association,  said he still expected the sector to reach its target of increasing annual sales to about 3 million this year from 2.95 million in 2013.

Registrations in France fell 3 percent last month to 83,340. With one less selling day compared with last August, adjusted sales last month rose 2 percent in France, the CCFA industry association said. Registrations for the first eight months rose 2 percent, the group said.

In Italy, vehicle sales slid 0.2 percent to 53,191 last month. Eight-month sales are up 4 percent to 925,393 units.

For the remainder of the year, automakers expect slight growth to continue, as January-August orders were up by 7 percent to 914,000. The full year is projected at about 1.35 million units, marginally better than the 1.3 million units sold last year, which was the lowest level since 1978.

Spain bucked the downward trend with August sales up 14 percent to 45,355. Spain was helped by a government subsidy scheme that gives buyers of new vehicles a 2,000-euro rebate for turning in old cars. The rise was the 12th straight month of increased sales for Spain. Sales in the first eight months increased 16 percent to 583,663.

Reuters contributed to this report

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