PARIS—The European car industry showed further signs of distress as new data found car sales were down 6.6 per cent for the first half of the year over the same time last year.
The European automakers’ association (ACEA) said there were 6.205 million new car registrations from January to June in the European Union, providing further grim reading for an industry that is struggling amid a deep recession and high unemployment.
The car industry also had its worst June since 1996, with demand falling 5.6 per cent from a year earlier to 1.134 million cars.
The figures do not include Malta, for which there was no data, or Croatia, with just joined the EU.
Car registrations fell for 18 months to April, when extra working days created a small bounce.
But the slide has since picked up again.
The economy of the European Union is in recession again, with gross domestic product falling 0.1 per cent in the first three months of this year.
Europe’s car industry has long struggled from overcapacity at factories and uncompetitive wages and labour laws, and the region’s economic crisis has compounded these problems, as consumers put off big-ticket purchases.
One surprising bright spot was Portugal, which, though mired in recession, showed a bump in sales of 2.9 per cent for the first half of the year.
It could be that after putting off buying new cars for so long, some people are now simply forced to get rid of their wrecks.
The market in Britain also seems to be gathering steam, up 10 per cent for the year.
But most places clocked deep slides.
For January through June, registrations fell 8.1 per cent in Germany, 11.2 per cent in France and 10.3 per cent in Italy.
Tiny Cyprus, which agreed to a bailout in March, saw the biggest slide, falling 42.7 per cent this year.