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Peugeot, Renault Lead European Sales Drop on State-Aid End

PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA led European car sales lower in April, the region’s 12th decline in 13 months, after clearing order backlogs accumulated before the phase-out of French government incentives.

Registrations fell 3.8 percent from a year earlier to 1.13 million vehicles, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said today in a statement. Four-month sales dropped 2.4 percent.

The progressive withdrawal of cash-for-clunkers payments has weighed on car sales even as the broader economy rebounds in countries such as Germany, Europe’s biggest auto market. France, which on Dec. 31 became the last major country in the region to scrap the payouts, bore the brunt of the hangover among the four largest markets with an 11 percent plunge in April deliveries.

That contributed to Paris-based Peugeot’s 18 percent slide to 132,949 European registrations, while smaller domestic rival Renault recorded a 13 percent decline to 105,799 vehicles. Italy’s Fiat SpA posted 82,315 registrations, down 7.8 percent.

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest carmaker, countered the regional decline with a 3.7 percent sales increase to 276,002 vehicles, helped by the 2.6 percent expansion of its home market of Germany. The country’s government was one of the first to end incentives, in 2009.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales were little changed at 47,314 cars in April. The automaker said today in a statement that its European production will recover completely in June from parts-supply disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

Europe’s auto market has contracted for the last three years, dropping to 13.8 million vehicles in 2010 from 16 million in 2007, the last year that deliveries gained, according to the carmaker association’s figures.

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