Data released by the European carmakers' trade body ACEA shows that the EU car market declined by 16.3% in December and was down 8.2% in 2012 as recession took hold across the region.

The ACEA market figures are consistent with those released for Western Europe by LMC Automotive and published on just-auto earlier this month.

In a statement, ACEA noted that the December decline is the steepest recorded in a month of December since 2008. Over the whole year, demand for new cars in the EU reached the lowest level recorded since 1995, totalling 12,053,904 units. The resulting 8.2% contraction of the EU market (year-on-year) is the most important experienced since the 16.9% downturn in 1993, ACEA said.

In December, most of the major markets recorded a double-digit downturn ranging from -14.6% in France to -16.4% in Germany, -22.5% in Italy and -23.0% in Spain. The UK was the only significant market to post growth (+3.7%). Overall, a total of 799,407 new cars were registered in the EU.

For the year, results were diverse across markets. While the UK expanded (+5.3%) and the German market somewhat contained the decline (-2.9%), Spain (-13.4%), France (-13.9%) and Italy (-19.9%) faced a more severe downturn, leading to an 8.2% overall contraction of the EU car market.

The publication of the ACEA car sales data is also useful because it includes manufacturer sales numbers and market shares.

Strong sales from the Audi and Skoda brands helped market leader VW Group to increase its market share in 2012 (at just under 3m cars sold last year, it was just 1.6% off 2011, for a share of 24.7% versus 23% in 2011).

There were share declines last year for many of the big volume groups, including PSA, Renault, Fiat, GM and Ford. The premium brands fared rather better (Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Daimler all seeing share gains). It was also a relatively good year for Toyota, while the Koreans – Hyundai and Kia – also recorded further big gains (both volumes and shares up).