Fiat S.p.A., Ford Motor Co. and Renault SA posted large declines in European new car sales in March, while Volkswagen AG benefited from the sales rebound in its German home market.
Registrations in Europe fell 5 percent in March to 1.6 million vehicles, ACEA, the European automakers association, said on Tuesday.
European car deliveries have declined every month except one in the last year as the end of government scrappage programs in key markets dampened demand. Consumers are also holding back spending as Europe battles a debt crisis.
Fiat sales plunged 20 percent to 106,836, Ford dropped 16 percent to 142,789 and Renault sales fell 14 percent to 141,711, ACEA said. VW Group recorded a 4 percent sales increase last month to 346,817 vehicles. PSA/Peugeot Citroen SA sold 204,347 vehicles, 7 percent fewer than the year before.
"Fiat, Ford and Renault are suffering most from the end of government incentives, whose major effects ended in March," said Gian Primo Quagliano, president of Centro Studi Promotor GL Events research group in Bologna, Italy. "We expect the trend to reverse from April."
Ford of Europe said it was confident sales will rebound, helped by its new Focus. The company said it had sold more than 10,000 units of the five-door model in March as the new car continued to go on sale throughout Europe.
"The all-new Ford Focus is off to an outstanding sales start, and this even before we've rolled out the car across all our European markets and with the four-door and wagon derivatives still to come in late April and May," Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe's vice president of marketing, sales and service, said in a statement.
Fiat, which controls Chrysler Group, continued to shed market share, falling to 6.7 percent from 7.9 percent. CEO Sergio Marchionne said earlier this month he needs to give more attention to Fiat's European operations, which he acknowledged have suffered while the Chrysler integration has consumed so much time.
BMW Group sales, including the BMW and Mini brands, were up 7 percent to 90,267 while sales as VW's luxury brand, Audi, advanced 7 percent to 77,987. Daimler sales, including Mercdes-Benz and Smart, fell 1.8 percent to 70,328.