TURIN -- New-car sales in Italy fell 5.7 percent last month, partly hit by customers postponing purchases as politicians negotiated to form a new government following recent elections.
Registrations dropped to 213,731, according to figures published by Italy's transport ministry on Thursday.
March had one less selling day than 2017, leading to a 1.5 percent drop on an adjusted basis.
The result was the second consecutive monthly decline in sales, after registrations slipped 1.4 percent in February.
Political uncertainty and a slower recovery of the economy hit demand, said Aurelio Nervo, president of industry association ANFIA.
Private sales were particularly weak with sales slumping 15 percent, according to the car importers association UNRAE. Business sales rose 5.9 percent and self-registrations by automakers and dealers increased 10 percent.
The market share of diesel cars declined to 54.5 percent from 56.4 percent, while gasoline market share rose to 33.9 from 33.3 percent.
Sales by market leader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles slumped 13 percent, as registrations of core brand Fiat fell 20 percent. Sales of Jeep SUVs rose 78 percent, buoyed by demand for the new Compass compact SUV, which was not available in March 2017. Alfa Romeo posted a 17 percent rise in registrations, while Lancia slipped 37 percent.
Volkswagen Group sales rose 6.1 percent on the back of a 9 percent increase at the core VW brand and a 33 percent jump from Spanish unit Seat. Skoda volume rose 4.2 percent.
Within the PSA Group, Peugeot sales fell 0.4 percent, while Citroen sales increased 19 percent and Opel registrations fell 9.8 percent.
Renault's volume declined 16 percent, with sister brand Dacia increasing 10 percent.
Ford registrations were down 8.6 percent.
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Among German premium brands, Audi sales declined 4.4 percent, BMW's volume was down 0.8 percent, while Mercedes-Benz sales gained 4.7 percent.
All the main Asian automakers lost ground. Toyota's registrations fell 1.2 percent, Nissan slipped 10 percent, Hyundai slipped 1 percent and Kia was down 9.4 percent.
Sales in the first quarter fell 1.5 percent to 574,130.