German May New Car Sales Decline 9.9% on European Economy

New car sales in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, resumed declining in May as buyers shied away from big-ticket purchases and fleet operators cut spending amid a lingering sovereign-debt crisis in the region.

Registrations last month fell 9.9 percent from a year earlier to 261,316 cars, the German Federal Motor Vehicle Office, or KBA, said today in a statement. Five-month sales declined 8.8 percent to 1.22 million vehicles.

The drop in May reverses a gain in April, the only month this year that German car sales increased. The European auto market is contracting for a sixth consecutive year to a two-decade low amid a recession in the countries using the euro. Car sales also tumbled in France last month, according to the country’s CCFA auto-industry association.

Italian carmaker Fiat SpA’s Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands suffered the biggest slump in Germany in May, with sales declines of 63 percent and 53 percent, respectively. Registrations at market leader Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand fell 10 percent and were down 9.7 percent at the manufacturer’s Audi premium division.

French light-vehicle sales fell 11 percent in May to 176,852 units, the CCFA said yesterday. PSA Peugeot Citroen, the country’s biggest automaker, sold 7.6 percent fewer cars and light vans in May, while its main local competitor, Renault SA, posted a 19 percent drop.

The Peugeot brand’s German auto sales in May fell 28 percent and the Citroen nameplate’s registrations in the country plunged 33 percent, according to the KBA. German sales by Renault fell 26 percent last month, while the company’s low-cost Dacia brand posted a 19 percent gain.

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