European car sales fell for a sixth straight month in March with Fiat suffering most down 26 percent, followed by Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen, with declines close to 20 percent.
The figures reflect the deepening slump in France and Italy which overshadowed a fragile recovery in Germany and Britain.
New registrations dropped 6.6 percent to 1.5 million cars – that was the lowest level in March since 1998.
General Motors’ European sales fell 10 percent, Ford’s 7.6 percent and Toyota’s 2.1 percent.
The German and British markets nonetheless turned positive in March, with respective gains of 3.4 percent and 1.8 percent.
The upturn helped Germany’s Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, to buck the overall market contraction with a 1.7 percent rise in sales.
BMW, the world’s largest premium automaker, recorded registrations that were up 3.2 percent, while deliveries by Daimler’s Mercedes unit surged 6.8 percent.