FRANKFURT -- European new-car sales for May continued to reflect weak consumer confidence in the crisis-hit markets of the region, with PSA, Renault, Opel and Ford suffering the biggest drops last month.
New-car registrations in the 27-nation European Union and EFTA countries dropped 8.4 percent to 1.15 million vehicles in May, which had one less working day than May 2011, auto industry association ACEA said in a statement on Friday. Five-month sales shrank 7.3 percent to 5.64 million vehicles.
Sales of PSA vehicles, which are heavily exposed to southern European markets at the sharp end of the region's debt crisis, fell 19.6 percent last month to 135,874, accelerating the year-to-date decline to 14.9 percent or 675,323 vehicles. At Renault, sales fell 12.8 percent to 97,053 in May.
GM's loss-making Opel brand posted a 12.6 percent decline to 83,071 cars, while Ford too saw sales drop 12.6 percent to 86,893.
Fiat, which today announced plans to reduce this year's European investment spending by 500 million euros, reported a sales drop of 12.1 percent to 82,501 in the same period.
Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, saw its new car registrations slip 5.5 percent last month to 283,382 autos, extending the five-month drop at the German manufacturer to 1.9 percent or 1.385 million.
Sales at premium carmakers BMW and Mercedes fell by 5.8 percent and 4 percent respectively last month, but there was good news for Toyota, Hyundai and Kia, which all posted significant volume growth.
UK defies downturn
The UK emerged as the only major market to avoid losses last month, growing 7.9 percent to 162,288. In Germany, the region's biggest market, sales fell 4.8 percent to 289,977.
Sales in the battered economies of southern Europe continued to plummet, with French sales falling 16.2 percent to 165,691, ahead of Italy, whose sales dropped 14.3 percent to 147,102. Sales in Spain fell 8.2 percent to 72,442.
Reuters contributed to this report