Italy, France and Spain have reported sales declines in November while in Belgium, which never had its own scrappage scheme, car sales rose 15.4% last month.
Italian car sales fell 21% year-on-year in November and industry experts have predicted that Italian car sales were unlikely to reach pre-crisis levels until 2014.
Italian foreign carmakers association UNRAE said in a statement that orders reached 160,000 in November, more than 20% down from 2009.
Sales got a boost late last year as drivers flocked to showrooms before scrapping bonuses ran out, and this comparison effect exacerbated difficult market conditions, UNRAE said.
UNRAE predicted full-year sales of 1.95 million units in Italy, compared with 2.16 million in 2009. “For next year there are no signs of a clear reversal in the trend,” it said.
In Spain, where bonuses to boost new-car sales ran out at the start of July, coinciding with an increase in VAT, car sales tumbled 26% year-on-year in November, Spanish carmakers’ association ANFAC said.
“Getting consumer confidence back, reducing the unemployment rate and a return to a more normal credit situation, are fundamental factors to returning the Spanish market to levels more in line with the economic development of the country,” ANFAC said in a statement.
Meanwhile in France Industry association CCFA said car sales for November dropped 10.8% whicjh was less than expected.
A 500 euro ($660) scrapping scheme, half the original bonus offered, is still in place in France, while carmakers including domestic rivals PSA/Peugeot Citroen SA and Renault SA are proposing generous money-back offers to drivers.
The imminent end of the scheme helped car sales post a limited fall against a strong November 2009 when, just before the scrapping scheme was cut from its initial 1,000 euros, sales surged 48.4% from a weak November 2008.
“Drivers are saying to themselves, ‘At the end of December it’s finished; we have to hurry to order a new car’,” said Flavien Neuvy, head of the automobile industry research department at French consumer credit organisation Cetelem.
A CCFA spokesman added: “We have already passed the 2-million-vehicle marker in 11 months, so we could finish the year with 2.2 million registrations.”
In the first 11 months 2,023,410 passenger cars were registered, a 2.4% dip on the same period of 2009.
Job fears are the main economic factor that will affect car sales in the coming months, said Neuvy.
“If the employment market picks up a little, that will return some confidence to consumers,” Neuvy said. French third-quarter unemployment data will be released on Thursday.