Fiat, which controls Chrysler, has posted a wider first-quarter loss in Europe after sales in the region plunged but was propped up by the US unit.

The loss before interest, taxes and one-time items in Europe nearly doubled to EUR207m (US$274million), Bloomberg News reported, noting that the shares fell as much as 5.7%.

Without Chrysler, Fiat would have reported a EUR6m trading loss in the period as the sovereign debt crisis and a lack of new models hit demand. Fiat’s deliveries in the region tumbled 20% in the first quarter, outpacing the industrywide 7.3% drop.

The loss in Europe “is not good and indicative of just how difficult it is to operate in the euro zone,” David Arnold, a sales specialist at Credit Suisse Group in London, told Bloomberg.

First-quarter trading profit more than tripled to EUR866m from EUR251m a year earlier on demand for Chrysler 200 and 300 sedans in the US. Revenue more than doubled to EUR20.2bn.

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