BRUSSELS: Sales of new cars fell in Europe during 2012, as continuing economic volatility discouraged consumers from making big-ticket purchases.

New data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), an industry body, suggests that registrations fell by 16.3% in December across the region, when compared to the same month the previous year. For 2012 as a whole, registrations reached 12.1m units, down 8.2% from 2011.

This means that new car sales for the region have been declining for five consecutive years. Last year also marked the largest single-year decline for 19 years, exceeding the 7.9% drop recorded in 2008.

Europe's large car markets recorded strikingly diverse performances across the year, with rising sales in the UK (up 5.3% from 2011) cancelled out by sharp drops across the Eurozone.

Germany, the region's largest economy, posted an annual decline of 2.9%, while France was down 13.9%. Italy fell the furthest, dropping 19.9%, while Spain was down 13.4% from 2011.

Data sourced from ACEA/Auto Express; additional content by Warc staff