European new car sales have slumped for a fifth successive month after volumes in September dropped 8.2 per cent year-on-year.
In what is usually a bumper sales month across the region, registrations stalled at just over 1.3 million units -the lowest September level since 1998.
The latest decline is the fifth monthly drop since April and follows recent falls of 15.7 per cent in August and 7.3 per cent in July.
According to Acea, the European market is now down 4.4 per cent over the year-to-date at 11.7 million units.
Of the major markets the UK and Spain contributed the biggest declines at 21.2 per cent and 32.2 per cent. Sales in Italy fell by 5.5 per cent.
The German market remained stable in September, falling marginally by 1.5 per cent but sales in France proved to be resilient, rising by 8.4 per cent year-on-year.
Three quarters into 2008 and only France and Germany have achieved sales growth over the year-to-date.
The Spanish, Italian and British markets are down by 22 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively.
Acea blamed the drop in registrations for the “aggravating market circumstances” and said the fall out from the ongoing financial crisis had hit carmakers hard.
It also warned that consumer spending was unlikely to improve during the final quarter of 2008 and the market would remain tough.