West European new car sales fell 1.3% in January versus year-ago levels according to figures released by the European carmakers’ association, Acea.

Total sales in Western Europe in January are estimated at 1.28 million units, 1.3% down on the 1.3 million units recorded in January 2001.

The reported market decline for January confirms the earlier estimates for the month released by LMC/JD Power.

Among the large national markets, Germany and France were flat against year-ago levels, while Italy was 8.8% down and the UK saw a 9.3% gain. However, analysts say that the UK figure actually represents a weakening demand trend.

Amongst the vehicle manufacturers’ totals for the month the main development was the Volkswagen brand’s decline (-15.1%), apparently due to the impact of newer models in the Golf segment. One of the Golf’s biggest competitors is the younger Peugeot 307 and the Peugeot brand notched up a sales increase of 12.5% in January.