European new car sales plunged again last month, dragged down by the region’s recession and record unemployment,
The industry suffered its worst May in 20 years and manufacturers and analysts do not expect an improvement any time soon.
A sign of desperation in the showrooms was an offer seen in France.
Buy a top of the range SUV and you would get a second vehicle – a compact car – for just one euro.
Registrations across the 27 countries of the European Union dropped in May by 5.9 percent from the same month last year.
April had seen a slim rise of 1.7 percent. It was the first increase in 19 months, but was due to extra sales days from early Easter holidays.
Sales in May were down 9.9 percent in Germany, 10.3 percent in France and 7.9 percent in Italy. Those three countries account for about half of the region’s car purchases.
Britain was the only major market to show growth – up 11 percent on an annual basis – fuelled by cheap loans and money from compensation payouts by banks for insurance miss-selling.
France’s Peugeot ranked as May’s biggest casualty among the largest automotive groups, with a further 13.2 percent sales plunge, followed by GM’s 11.3 percent. Volkswagen, Europe’s No. 1, only slid 2.8 percent.
Ford, which is scrapping European plants and thousands of jobs, gained a respite as its sales were broadly flat in May while year-to-date deliveries tumbled 12.8 percent.
Conversely, Mercedes sales again bucked the market decline with a 2.8 percent monthly gain, while the BMW brand fell 8.1 percent and VW’s Audi dropped 3.2 percent.