PARIS (Reuters) - Western European car sales dropped 23 percent in September, according to LMC Automotive data, in the wake of a summer discounting splurge that preceded tougher new emissions rules now keeping some models out of showrooms.
Registrations fell to 1.05 million cars last month from 1.36 million a year earlier, the consulting firm said on Thursday. Its numbers are based on national sales data and estimates for some of the smallest markets.
The new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) became mandatory on Sept. 1, forcing carmakers including Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> and Renault <RENA.PA> to halt deliveries of some models that had yet to be re-certified.
"The factors affecting the market are multifaceted, with backlogs in cars being tested under WLTP leading to the removal from sale of several popular models," said LMC analyst David Oakley.
VW and Renault had led an August sales surge, as automakers boosted discounts and registrations of their own vehicles to be sold on the used car market.
In September, the seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of Western European sales plunged 39 percent to 11.26 million cars, LMC said - adding that VW model approval delays had contributed to market declines in Germany and the UK.
Sales fell 30.5 percent in Germany, 20.5 percent in Britain, 12.8 percent in France and 25.4 percent in Italy, according to data published in recent days.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)