Car sales fell in Italy, Spain and France during August, confirming a grim outlook for the sector after government subsidies to car buyers were phased out or ended.
Italian passenger car sales declined 19 percent to 63,000 last month, Italy's dealer association Federauto said. In Spain volume fell 23.8 percent to 44,578 in August from a year earlier, carmakers association ANFAC said. French sales were down 9.8 percent.
Italy's new-car sales for 2010 are expected about 400,000 units below the 2.16 million units sold last year.
Federauto president Filippo Pavan Bernacchi said Italian dealers would have to cut about 15,000 of their current 178,000 jobs to survive in the declining market.
Federauto said retail sales – not influenced by automaker and dealer self-registrations -- were down 29 percent in August.
In Spain government subsidies to help people buy new cars ran out at the start of July, at the same time as a hike in value-added tax kicked in.
In France, a 9.8 percent fall in August sales came as a scrappage scheme was phased out.
"The French market is returning to where it was before the effect of the scrapping incentive scheme," said a spokesman for industry association CCFA.
"We're back to a level similar to that of August 2009... we should end the year at over 2 million vehicles," he added.
Flavien Neuvy, head of the automobile industry research unit at French consumer credit organisation Cetelem, agreed.
"There is no longer a scrapping effect. There is still a scrapping incentive (of 500 euros until the end of the year) but evidently it is no longer much use," he said.
Car sales will continue to show year-on-year falls in France in the coming months, Neuvy said as sales figures compare to very strong months in late 2009, when consumers flocked to take advantage of the thousand euro bonus before it was reduced.
Light commercial vehicle sales rose 8.5 percent in August, reflecting an upturn in demand from industrial sectors like public infrastructure and construction, the CCFA said.
Reuters contributed to this report