March 18, 2020 / 7:04 AM / 2 months ago

European new car sales down 7.2% in February

FILE PHOTO - Cars are seen stuck in a traffic jam in central Brussels, Belgium, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BERLIN (Reuters) - Passenger car sales fell in Europe’s major markets in February, data showed on Wednesday, as weakening global economy, higher vehicle taxes and the coronavirus outbreak weighed on consumers’ appetite for new cars.

In February, new car registrations dropped 7.2% to 1.067 million vehicles in the European Union, Britain and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, statistics by the European Auto Industry Association (ACEA) showed.

Sales fell for the second consecutive month in EU’s major markets, with Italy dropping 8.8%, Germany 10.8%, France 2.7% and Spain 6% in February.

Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) sales were down 4.4% in February, while Renault (RENA.PA) and PSA Group (PEUP.PA) posted a drop of 14.3% and 8.5%, respectively. BMW (BMWG.DE) continued to be among the few automakers reporting an increase in European sales last month, rising 2.1%, while demand for rival Daimler (DAIGn.DE) fell 11.9%.

The drop comes as Europe is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and Italy becoming the worst-hit country outside of China.

Major European car makers such as Volkswagen, PSA and Renault this week announced halting production in various plants in Europe due to the outbreak.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Christoph Steitz

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