New passenger car sales in Europe suffered their sharpest fall for 15 years in 2008.The association representing the carmaking industry says the downturn was most prominent in the last quarter of the year as the credit crunch and worsening economy slashed consumer spending. Ireland and Spain saw the biggest declines. Overall year-on-year sales were down 7.8 percent. The figures cover the 27 EU member states as well as the European Free Trade Association countries, but exclude Cyprus and Malta. Among major European manufacturers, Volkswagen posted a 4.4 percent decline in full year sales, Renault a 6.9 percent drop, PSA Peugeot Citroen a fall of 9.1 percent and Fiat a drop of 5.5 percent. Japan’s Nissan was a rare gainer, posting sales 8.8 percent higher year-on-year.