Analysis group JD Power said much of the decline was caused by a drop in sales in Italy. Overall, the average European selling rate was down 5% on last year.
The war in Iraq also failed to have a bearing on sales, according to the analysis provider.
Spain proved to be one of the only countries to produce encouraging results.
Sales in Spain were up 6.3% on last year and a spokesman for JD Power said: 'This suggests that demand has flattened out after the decline that set in during the final months of last year.'
French sales remained fairly consistent with previous months but with car sales standing at 180,824 to April 2003, business stands at a low level.
Some of the smaller European countries including Belgium, Greece and Norway failed to produce any startling recoveries, with year-on-year comparisons remaining low at -16.5%, -19% and -20.5% respectively.
Austria did manage to reverse the decline, with sales climbing 5.7% during the year alongside the Netherlands up 2.8% and Ireland up 1.6% (see table).
|European car sales|
|April 2003||April 2002||% change||YTD||YTD 2003||% 2002 change|
Source: JD Power/LMC