Sales of new cars in Europe are significantly down on last year, according to new figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), with Fiat, General Motors and Renault worst hit.

Car sales – a useful barometer of consumer confidence – fell to 1.28 million units in June, an 8% fall from 1.39m twelve months before. The total for the first six months of 2002 is down 4.5% year-on-year, a reflection of the wider economic downturn.

Germany (the continent’s largest auto market), Denmark, Finland and Luxembourg were the only nations not to post a decline last month, with German sales rising 1.8%.

In contrast, sales slipped in Spain (-17.4%), Italy (-17.2%), France (-8.8%) and the UK (-3.7%).

Among the big auto firms, June was a particularly bad month for Fiat, whose sales slumped 29.5%, while there were also drops for GM (-15.7%) and Renault (-11.7%).

There were better tidings for BMW, whose Mini marque helped push the auto firm’s sales up 18.6%. DaimlerChrysler was up 3.3%, while Toyota and Honda also managed to escape the market’s decline.

Despite the overall downturn in sales, ACEA remained positive: “The market should partly recover in the second half of the year, before going back to a growing trend in 2003.”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff