Grim numbers have been released by the auto industry for 2012. They reveal that car sales in France, Spain and Italy fell to their lowest levels in years.
Germany – which had been holding up relatively well in the face of the eurozone debt crisis – saw new vehicle registrations drop almost three percent.
December’s sales were very weak, underscoring the challenges facing the broader European economy.
Analysts said the slump was a direct consequence of austerity measures.
Italy was worst hit with a fall of 19.9 percent from the previous year. The head of the Italian car dealers’ trade group blamed what he called “an overdose of taxes”.
In France the decline was 14 percent and in Spain 13 percent.
Europe’s largest car market, Germany – which had long resisted the slump spreading north – saw a sales downturn in the second half of the year as it felt the ripple effects of the eurozone’s problems.
Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, suffered a 25 percent fall in sales at its core brand in France, 15 percent in Spain and 36 percent in Italy.
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