ACEA - the European carmakers' trade body - has today released figures for the West European car market that are in line with figures released earlier this month by JD Power/LMC and reported by just-auto. ACEA said that West European new car sales reached 1,219, 605 units in April, a drop of 6.5% on the same month last year.

However, ACEA pointed out that public holidays made the comparison with last year difficult. "Two main factors explain this drop: the effects of the military operations in Iraq on the overall economic environment and the fact that the Easter holiday fell in the month of April this year and in March in 2002, making comparisons difficult," said ACEA in a statement.

JD Power/LMC said last week that on a seasonally adjusted basis, much of the drop was attributable to lower sales in Italy and there was no evidence of significant underlying demand decline in the region in April.

ACEA said that sales for the first four months of the year reached 5.02 million units, 3.4% down on the same period a year ago.

In terms of manufacturer shares, Volkswagen, Renault and Fiat appeared to head the losers' list. Market leader Volkswagen Group's share declined to 17.5% in April versus 17.9% a year ago. PSA edged closer to VW again, up to 15.6% (15% last year). Renault was down to 10.4% share in April against 11% last year, raising questions about the success of relatively recently launched models.

Fiat Group recorded another disappointing month - sales declined by 13% in April, with share slipping to 7.9% against 8.9% last year.

Asian makers gained again in April. Kia was up 69% on last year (share 0.8% versus 0.5% last year). Japanese makes were up to 12.2% share against 11.1% last year. Mazda recorded a +56.8% sales increase in April, boosted by new product. Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Suzuki all managed sales gains during April.