Figures released by ACEA have confirmed the decline to April car sales caused by the ending of government sponsored scrappage incentives in a number of key markets.

The European carmakers’ association reported that new passenger car registrations in the EU fell by 7.4% in April (to stand at 1,134,701 units) compared to the same month last year. Over the first four months of 2010 the EU car market expanded by 4.8% (to just over 4.8m units) compared to the same period a year ago, while shrinking by 11.6% in comparison to ‘pre-crash’ January-April 2008.

ACEA said that the year-on-year decline in April registrations, the first in ten months, is linked to the upturn in registrations last year when a growing number of markets had started to benefit from fleet renewal incentives.

In the first months of the present year, however, government support has ended or begun to fade out and ‘the economic situation remains difficult’, ACEA said.

Germany, Europe’s largest national market, experienced a 31.7% year-on-year drop in April car sales.

Manufacturer detail shows that a mixture of market geography and segmentation trends affected year-on-year trends in April. Small car specialist Fiat, for example, saw April sales 27% off of last year’s pace. Recall and quality problems left Toyota sales down 20% on last year.

Renault brand sales, however, were up 15% on last year in April, helped by a relatively robust French car market (up 1.9% in April).

JD Power forecasts that the West European car market in 2010 will decline by 8.1% to 12.54m units as the removal of temporary scrappage incentives works through. The forecast for 2011 is for 12.5m units  – a flat market on this year, but a market that should be growing by the second half.

ANALYSIS: Germany leads European car market drop [includes data]