Car sales in Western Europe fell by 10.6% in February, according to data released by LMC Automotive.

LMC said that the market last month remained desperately weak as a dismal economic backdrop continued to hamper sales. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rate (SAAR) of sales stood at just 11. 4m units a year, an improvement on the January result but low by historical standards.

LMC said that it is forecasting a fall of 4% to the Western European car market in 2013, meaning 2013 would finish at around 11.3m units, some 3.5m units below the 2007 result.

The Oxford-based forecasters said that we could expect the coming months to remain subdued, with the year-on-year results picking up a little in the second half of the year, helped by an improving economy and comparisons to a weaker second half of 2012.

In February, Germany's car market was down by 10.5% with the year-to-date market off 9.6% on last year's pace. By comparison to a year ago when registrations were still fairly robust, 2013 appears much worse. LMC forecasts that the German car market will decline to around 3m units in 2013.

The French car market reported another double-digit fall last month, with Italy and Spain also continuing to head in the wrong direction - the latter despite ongoing incentive (scrappage scheme) support. Nevertheless, the annual selling rate crept up over 700,000 units in Spain and the market there will continue to receive scrappage incentive support, thanks to an extension to the PIVE scheme introduced in October.

The UK car market continued to buck the downward trend, with February sales improved by 7.9%, as manufacturer activity continued to support sales, especially in the private retail sector.