The German car market was down almost 18% year on year in November, putting 2008 on track to be the worst year for car sales since reunification in 1990.

According to national vehicle registration authority Kraftfahrtbundesamt (KBA), 233,800 new cars were sold, down 17.8%.

Volker Lange, the president of the trade association for international vehicle manufacturers, the Verband der Internationalen Kraftfahrzeughersteller (VDIK), said that situation had worsened, as expected.

Toyota and Opel were amongst the worst affected brands. The usually resilient Toyota saw sales fall 38.8% while Opel sales were down 35.9%.

Domestic and import brands suffered alike. Of the domestic brands, BMW was down 20.8% and VW sales were down 18.6%. Audi significantly outperformed the market with a decline of just 1.1%. Mercedes-Benz (down 10.9%) and Ford (off 8%) showed greater resilience.

Some brands did manage to increase sales. Fiat was up 3.1%, Hyundai volume grew 74.5% and Lancia was up 119.4%.

Year-to-date, German care sales were down 1.5%.

Passenger car registrations in 2009 will drop to about 2.9m from 3.1m forecast for this year, the VDA association of German carmakers has predicted.

"Export and production will also drop significantly," VDA president Matthias Wissmann told Reuters. "The situation on global passenger car markets is dramatic," he added.