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UK defies trend of plummeting European car sales

New car registrations fell nearly 9% year-on-year in February in western Europe.> The fall of 8.7% reported by the Association of European Automotive Manufacturers (ACEA) is believed to stem from economic problems in the US and Japan, which yesterday led to a dramatic fall in stock exchanges across the world.

Car sales, ACEA said, fell in four of western Europe's five biggest markets. Only the UK has remained immune with sales up 7.3% in February.

Germany suffered the most with sales down 12.1%, followed by Italy at 8%, Spain 3.2% and France 2.3%. For the first two months of the year car registrations in western Europe fell 4.4% to 2,374,803 units.

Volkwagen, GM, Ford, Honda, Fiat and Renault saw significant falls in registrations in January and February. MG Rover's registrations fell 37.2% and Jaguar 32.3%.

Despite the gloom ACEA concluded that the good economic outlook and expected tax reductions in several EU countries “may provide grounds for more optimism later in the year”.

"It has also to be kept in mind that in February 2000 record levels had been reached in the majority of the western European countries."

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