The European carmakers' association ACEA has released figures confirming that the European car market declined sharply over the summer as economic growth slowed and consumer confidence plummeted across the region.

As reported by just-auto earlier this month, JD Power said that west European car sales were 16% below year ago levels in August.

ACEA said that demand for new cars in Europe decreased by 7.3% in July and 15.6% in August, reflecting the general deterioration in consumer confidence and the effect of continuing high fuel prices.

Over the first eight months of the year, new car registrations declined by 3.9% in Europe.

In July, new passenger car registrations fell by 7.2% in Western Europe. Germany posted growth (+1.5%) and the French market remained stable (-0.2%). However, the Italian, the British and the Spanish markets dropped by 10.9%, 13.0% and 27.5% respectively. Of the four biggest markets in the new EU member states, only the Czech Republic registered more cars than in July last year (+12.0%). Romania saw its market contract by 33.0%, Hungary by 9.8% and Poland by 1.2%. Overall, new car registrations in the new EU member states decreased by 8.9%.

In August, new car registrations decreased by 16.5% in Western Europe, with only Portugal posting growth (+4.8%). Ireland (-41.6%) and Spain (-41.3%) registered the steepest downturn. Registrations fell by 26.4% in Italy, 18.6% in the UK, 10.4% in Germany and 7.1% in France. Demand for new cars in the new EU member states dropped by 8.7%. Registrations remained stable in the Czech Republic (+0.5%) and Poland (-0.9%) while declining by 23.3% in Hungary and by 9.0% in Romania.

Over the first eight months of the year, there was a general decline in the number of new passenger cars registered in Europe (-3.9%). New registrations fell by 4.4% in Western Europe, with a decrease in Spain (-21.1%), Italy (-12.0%) and the UK (-3.8%) overshadowing growth in France (+2.9%) and Germany (+1.7%). Registrations were up 2.7% in the new EU member states, reflecting growth in Poland (+9.1%) and the Czech Republic (+8.2%) while Hungary (-4.9%) and Romania (-3.5%) were on a downward trend.

See also: UK: West European car sales off 16% in August