For the fifth consecutive month, new registrations of commercial vehicles in Europe have declined, according to figures from Brussels-based automotive association ACEA, with Western Europe driving the drop.

In September, demand for new vehicles fell by 8.8%, despite two extra working days across the region.

The ACEA said that markets were stable in the new member states (+0.2%) but contracted significantly in western Europe (-9.8%), with a falling demand in all commercial vehicle categories, except buses and coaches.

Over the first nine months of 2008, European registrations were down 3.8% to 1,978,926 units, as the decline in the last few months overrode the positive results in the beginning of the year.

"This is reflecting the consequences of the credit crunch and the subsequent spillover of the financial crisis to the real economy, which are both negatively affecting demand for commercial vehicles," the ACEA said.

Geographically, results were mixed as the new EU member states posted an 8.6% growth, counterbalancing the 5.2% decline in western Europe.

In September, the light commercial segment decreased the most, falling by 9.6% compared to September last year.

In western Europe, registrations were down 12.0%.

The most important declines were in Ireland (-53.5%), Spain (-44.8%), Denmark (-30.2%), the UK (-22.5%) and Italy (-17.1%). With respective growth rates of 8.5% and 7.5%, Germany and France performed better than last year.

With 16.5% more vehicles registered in September, markets in the new EU member states are still on an upward trend despite last month's 3.0% decline. The biggest ones, the Czech Republic and Poland, improved their results by 13.7% and 3.4% respectively compared to September last year.

The cumulative results from January to September saw a 5.1% contraction of the market. Overall results in western Europe contributed to the decline, with the sharpest drops in Denmark (-37.9%), Spain (-33.0%), Ireland (-30.6%) and Portugal (-21.8%).

The UK (-8.0%) and Italy (-1.8%) are also on a downward trend. Nine months into the year, the Dutch (+9.3), German (5.9%) and French (3.3%) markets all posted growth.