ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Européens d' Automobiles) reports that Europe's drivers have taken their foot off the auto-buying accelerator pedal, with sales of new vehicles in October dipping year-on-year by a marginal 0.3%. That figure adds to the rate of annual decline, 1.3% over ten months.

Economists comment that the slowdown -- which contrasts with surging auto sales in the US (+7.2%), China and India (both +25%) -- reflects the European Union's current lacklustre economic performance. Reverse gear is also engaged in non-EU nations such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

But another unwelcome European trend is also evident stateside. Japanese and Korean carmakers continue to snatch market share from their local rivals.

In the US, Toyota recently toppled Ford from its long-held number two sales slot [WAMN: 12-Nov-03] and in Europe VW, Renault and PSA Peugeot-Citroen are ceding share to Toyota, Hyundai and Kia -- although Volkswagen (buttressed by its sibling marques) is firmly parked at the top of the sales league and unlikely to be overtaken in the foreseeable future.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff