New-car sales in Europe fell 7.2 percent to 1.067 million vehicles in February, as weakening global economy, higher vehicle taxes and the coronavirus outbreak weighed on consumers' appetite for new cars.
The decline comes after a 7.4 percent drop in January. The monthly drops mean car sales in Europe are off to their worst start to a year since 2013 and are poised to deteriorate further after automakers across the region shuttered plants to counter the coronavirus pandemic.
The data, released by industry association ACEA on Wednesday, covers registrations in the European Union, Britain and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries.
"This decline was the result of a combination of factors, including changes to vehicle taxation in various EU member states, weakening global economic conditions and consumer uncertainty," ACEA said in a statement. The association did not comment on any potential effects the virus could have on sales this year.
Sales fell for the second consecutive month in EU's major markets, with Germany dropping 11 percent, Italy down 8.8 percent, the UK down 2.9 percent, France down 2.7 and Spain down 6 percent.
Though 2020 was already shaping up to be a tough year for automakers -- ACEA in January predicted a 2 percent contraction in registrations for the year -- the spread of coronavirus in the region will increase the burden.
Governments in countries from Germany to Italy and Spain have shut borders, closed restaurants and urged people to shelter to slow the spread of the disease.
Volkswagen on Tuesday said it will halt production at its plants in Europe for at least two weeks, while Ford, Renault, Toyota, Nissan and Daimler are among other automakers to have shuttered factories in the region.