Car sales plummet in Europe: industry data

Car sales in Europe dropped by 18.6 percent in July and 12.9 percent in August on 12-month comparisons, official data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association showed on Thursday.

August was the fifth straight month of declining sales as many European countries wind down their cash-for-clunkers programmes launched last year to prop up the ailing auto market during the global economic crisis.

Sales fell 7.4 percent in April, 9.3 percent in May and 6.9 percent in June.

Over the first eight months of the year, total car sales reached 9,021,703 units - a fall of 3.5 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

The Brussels-based industry association said there had been even bigger drops in some countries with sales in Germany - Europe's biggest auto market - falling by 30.2 percent in July and 27 percent in August.

Spain saw a decline of 24.1 percent in July and 23.8 percent in August and Italy also dropped 25.7 percent in July and 19.3 percent in August.

Europe's biggest auto company, Volkswagen, saw its sales drop by 15.1 percent in July and 11.1 percent in August.