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PARIS, March 1 (Reuters) - French light vehicle sales dropped 18 percent in February, the country's CCFA automakers' association said on Thursday, as economic gloom worsened the fallout from the withdrawal of government incentives.
February registrations fell to 196,958 cars and light trucks last month from 239,617 a year earlier, when automakers had delivered a glut of orders placed before the sales subsidies expired.
"The manufacturers showing the strongest declines are those with the biggest volumes, who benefited most from scrappage incentives," CCFA spokesman Francois Roudier said on Thursday. France phased out its crisis auto subsidies at the end of 2010.
French car makers PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault led the market's fourth consecutive monthly decline, with registrations down by a quarter in February.
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, resisted the slump with a sales dip of just 5.3 percent.
Thanks to aggressive pricing on recent models such as the Polo subcompact, VW raised its French market share by 2.6 percentage points to 12.3 percent for the first two months of the year.
Passenger car registrations fell 20 percent last month, almost matching January's contraction, the CCFA said. The decline in sales of light commercial vehicles, or delivery trucks, accelerated to 3.8 percent from 2.5 percent. (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by James Regan)