And in the first five months of the year, when compared to the same period last year, sales are down by 3.8%.
Commenting on last month's sales figure, the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), which released the data, said: 'The smaller number of working days with respect to May 2001 in some countries (-2 in Germany, Greece and Austria, -1 in Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal) explains only in part the clear decline, which reflects the stagnation of the market and the slow recovery of the economy.'
The organisation said only three countries posted positive sales figures last month.
'Strong internal demand continues to characterise the UK (+5.1%), while good performances were also posted by two smaller markets like Denmark (+13.3%) and Finland (+ 11.5%),' it said.
All other countries decrease in the number of new cars sold, including the important market of Germany which registered a 5% drop in the first five months of the year. This was partly due to strikes that affected normal economic activity, ACEA said.
Other falls ranged from 0.3% in Ireland to –18.7% in Greece. In Italy, sales dropped by 11%, in France –8.6% and in Spain –6.2%.