European car market plunges to lowest since 1995
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    European car market plunges to lowest since 1995

    By Christiaan Hetzner and Helen Massy-Beresford
    Jan 16, 2013
    Reuters

    * EU 2012 new car sales reach lowest level since 1995

    * Sales fall 8.2 pct in 2012, worst contraction since 1993

    * Car sales fall 16.3 in December alone

    By Christiaan Hetzner and Helen Massy-Beresford

    FRANKFURT/LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Demand for new cars in recession-bound Europe fell to a 17-year low in 2012, leaving mass market manufacturers little hope for this year as they try to cut costly excess factory capacity and aggressive discounting dents their margins.

    Registrations data released on Wednesday also showed the biggest annual drop since a 16.9 percent downturn in 1993, highlighting the crisis for automakers in Europe. Consumers are fretting over austerity measures, job security and rising living costs, and those who want to buy new cars are struggling to secure credit.

    Even Germany's mighty Volkswagen suffered a drop in sales, according to the figures from the European automotive industry association ACEA. However, South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia, which are making an aggressive push in Europe, proved it is possible to expand sales even during a grim downturn.

    Peter Fuss, senior advisory partner at Ernst & Young's Global Automotive Center, said an industry practice of registering new cars before offering them as used vehicles at a discount was flattering even the dire new sales figures.

    "The actual decline is much worse than the statistics would have us believe as sales figures for the year were artificially inflated as a result of self-registrations by dealers and automakers, especially in the region's biggest market, Germany," said Fuss.

    Mass market carmakers are cutting jobs in underused plants across Europe, with Renault the latest to announce job losses, following Honda, Ford, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Opel.

    New car registrations fell 8.2 percent to 12.05 million vehicles in 2012, the lowest level since 1995, ACEA reported. Losses in all major euro zone economies, combined with two fewer working days on average, sent European Union registrations tumbling 16.3 percent last month to 799,407 vehicles, it added. This marked the worst plunge in 26 straight months - since October 2010.

    The industry tried to satisfy more robust demand for second-hand cars through the self-registrations.
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    Re: European car market plunges to lowest since 1995

    It is getting worse




    Those December sales are even worse. Not a good sign.
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