The drumbeat of negative news about the European auto market has become so consistent and regular over the last two years, that it almost seemed like down was the new normal on the Continent. But sales news for April 2013 shows a glimmer of hope for Europe's embattled new car market. The U.K., Spain and Germany saw the biggest percentage gains in Europe, with sales up 15, 11 and 3.8 percent, respectively. Sales on an EU-wide basis rose a modest 1.7 percent, and 1.8 percent when Switzerland, Norway and Iceland were added to the EU nations, reports Bloomberg.
But the growth of the car market was not uniform across all the EU member nations. Sales in France fell 5.3 percent in April and sales in Italy dropped off 11 percent. Likewise, the April fortunes of European automakers varied from company to company. Daimler saw 11 percent growth, and Volkswagen saw registrations rise 9.9 percent, giving the German Goliath a commanding 27 percent EU-wide market share. Sales for PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe's second-largest car manufacturer, dropped 10 percent in April.
Continental AG, Europe's second-largest auto parts supplier, and one of its largest tire manufacturers, said it would maintain investments in 2013, but most of its focus on expanding its production facilities will take place outside of Europe, in the United States, Russia, China and Brazil.