The UK joined Spain, France and Italy in reporting falling car sales in April after registrations in the country fell by 7.4 percent to 137,746.
The April decline is the 10th successive monthly decrease in UK sales. Deliveries for the the first four months of the year were down 8.5 percent to 696,082.
Industry association SMMT said UK registrations were 1.5 percent ahead of expectations and it is keeping its full-year forecast for 1.93 million unit sales despite uncertainty about the economic recovery.
"New car registrations in April demonstrated continued stability in the marketplace, with demand remaining lower than in 2010, although slightly ahead of industry expectations," said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt on Friday. "The coming months will remain challenging, but we do expect to see a return to growth in the second half of the year."
The SMMT said volumes this year had been supported by growth in demand for fleet and business cars, while private demand had fallen.
Spain, France, Italy down
Spain saw sales drop 23.3 percent to 71,808 in April, compared with last year. This was the tenth consecutive month that the market has posted a double-digit drop in deliveries, industry association ANFAC said. During the first four months Spain's new car sales fell 26.3 percent to 279,960. The fragility of the Spanish economy and the end of a car scrappage scheme have been blamed for poor sales.
French car sales fell 11.2 percent in April to 169,453 units, showing the effects of the end of France's scrappage scheme, carmakers' association CCFA said. Between January and April of this year, sales rose four percent compared with 2010 figures.
In Italy, new car sales declined by 2.2 percent to 157,309 in April, the country's Transport Ministry said. This is 13th consecutive month that sales have fallen.
German growth slows
In Germany, Europe's biggest market, new car sales growth slowed to 2.6 percent to 266,251 units in April after months of double-digit growth. In the first three months of the year, German new car registrations rose 14 percent, with double-digit percentage growth each month, industry group VDIK said last month.
In total, 1.03 million new cars were registered in Germany in the first four months, up from 10.7 percent the year before, the Federal Motor Vehicle Office (KBA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reuters contributed to this report