Although the decline was shallower than in January – down 5.3 per cent – the latest figures mean overall fall of 5.3 percent for the first two months of the year compared with 2002.
In total 1,016,454 (2002=1,053,541) new cars were registered in western Europe, compared with February 2002.
Most European brands were affected, but Fiat suffered most: its sales were down 12.7 percent in February, meaning a drop in market share of almost one point to 8.9 percent, from 9.8 in February last year.
Sales of Japanese brands rose 6.2 percent in February year-on-year and Korean car sales were up 10.8 percent taking the market share for vehicles from these countries up to 11.6 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.
Only four European Union countries escaped the downward trend: Austria, Sweden, Finland and the important Italian market whose sales were up 8.1 percent due to the reintroduction of an incentive scheme to get rid of old cars, according to ACEA.