Car sales in Western Europe fell by 9.1% in November according to JD Power Automotive Forecasting, but the firm says the pace of the fall has at least slowed from the previous month.

Although the market has once again come in lower year-on-year, the pace of the fall (which compares 2010 to an incentive-boosted 2009) has at least slowed from the previous month.

Car sales in Germany were down by 6.1% — the year-to-date market was down by 25.2%. The German market suffered another fall last month though this is much less severe than previous months — the German car market was losing steam late last year due to the registrations related to the government scrapping scheme tailing off.

The French car market put in a solid performance in November. It is the only major market in the region to have benefited from a scrappage scheme in the second half of the year — the full year result will be lower though, reflecting the reduced level of the government support in 2010.

The ongoing levels of weakness in the Spanish car market remain a cause for concern. Year-on-year sales were down 26%. Italian car sales fell 22% and the selling rate remained below 2 mn units/year.

The UK market fell for the fifth consecutive month following the ending of its scrappage incentive boost.

In Germany, the market slipped 6%, the first single digit percentage fall since January. This could well be the last negative year-on-year comparison as the market, by the end of last year, was suffering a post-incentive slump in registrations. The strength of the German economy should help put its sales on a firmer footing in 2011.

The French market has been the only one of the major five markets in Western Europe that has a scrapping scheme still in place in the second half of the year. However, the scheme has been less generous this year and for the full year the market will finish weaker as result.

In Italy, the market looks weak compared with a year ago (-22%). On a positive note, the selling rate has climbed to over 1.9 mn units/year, not fantastic but better than the worrying sub-1.7mn units/year rate the month before.

The Spanish market remains desperately weak by recent historical standards. The selling rate of 820,000 units/year highlights how far the market has fallen — pre-crisis the Spanish market managed over 1.6 mn units for each of the preceding four years.

The UK market suffered another year-on-year fall and, as elsewhere, a lack of scrapping scheme that was present in the year-ago figures helps explain the negative result.

More: ANALYSIS: Sluggish market recovery in Europe raises capacity questions

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