West European new car sales fell 4%in June. Demand plunged in Germany but soared in France, hurting Volkswagen AG and boosting PSA Peugeot Citroen. Sales fell to 1.3 million vehicles from 1.35 million in June 1999. Sales in Germany plunged 19.3%, more than offsetting a 75.4 % increase in France, according to registration figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. First-half sales rose 1.6 percent to 8.24 million.

The manafacturer with most success appears to be Peugeot which is bringing-out new models in the strongest markets. With employment in France at a 9-year high motorists have more to spend, so Peugeot is stepping-up production of the 206. Germany is declining amidst a glut of used cars and higher fuel prices with only scattered evidence that people are spending more despite a growing economy. Sales of VW, which controls more than 30 percent of the German car market, slipped 5.5% to 241,600 in June. In the half-year, Volkwagen's sales slipped 2.3 percent.

Sales of Peugeot, which controls about 30 percent of the French car market, jumped 12.2% to 172,029. Buyers of the Citroen Xsara Picasso small van, which went on sale last December, are still facing delivery delays of up to six months.

Ford's June sales fell 16.2%to 129,930 units after a 1% decline in 1999. Ford spokesman Don Hume partly blamed a shortage of Mondeo cars preceding the introduction of a redesigned version late in year and shortage of redesigned Galaxy vans.

"The German and British markets especially have been hit by the shortages," said Hume. GM sales, after a 5.4% gain in 1999, slid 12.3% in June to 143,201 vehicles. GM has been hurt by its exposure to Germany, its biggest European market, said company spokesman Tony LaRocca. He also cited the decline in demand for the Corsa compact model, which will be replaced with a redesigned version this autumn; limited availability of diesel engines and the impact of a brief strike at its Bochum, Germany engine plant in June.