Fleet News

Euro new car sales down

NEW European car sales in February look set to show a selling rate barely in excess of 14 million units a year and were 4% lower than the same month last year.

Although February's selling rate is an improvement on January's 13.8 million units/year figure, this had been expected, a study by automotive forecasters JD Power-LMC said.

Many sales had been pulled forward into December by tax and incentive changes in Italy and Holland.

'What was unexpected was the small size of the improvement. For comparison, full year Western European sales in 2-002 were 14.6 million units,' the study said.

Italy was the only major country to record a rise in sales during February, due to a renewed programme of government incentives. These include incentives for getting motorists out of older cars and into newer cars.

Sales in Germany were static at a low level, which was pleasing the study says, due to uncertainty about future company car tax changes that had affected corporate sales.

Automotive forecaster Charles Young said: 'This is an advance warning of the harder times that may be ahead for Europe's automotive industry, if today's combination of high oil prices, low consumer confidence and rising unemployment persists.'

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