Car registrations in Europe have declined 10 percent in March as carmakers such as PSA Peugeot Citroen, Ford Motor and Volkswagen experienced a slowdown in demand.
The Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said in a statement that car registrations declined to 1.35 million vehicles last month from 1.5 million a year earlier. In the first quarter, car sales declined by 9.7 percent to 3.4 million cars.
Germany, the largest economy in Europe, saw a 17.1 percent decline in registrations. Car sales were down 16.2 percent in France, 4.9 percent in Italy and 13.9 percent in Sweden.
Bucking the general trend, the UK posted a 5.9 percent increase in registrations to 395,000 vehicles.
For the first quarter, except for the UK that recorded a 7.4 percent increase in car sales, all major markets faced a double-digit decline ranging from 11.5 percent in Spain to 12.9 percent in Germany, 13 percent in Italy and 14.6 percent in France.
Among major manufacturers, the VW group that has the largest market share in Europe reported a 9 percent decline in sales. Sales of the PSA group, which owns Peugeot and Citrogen brands, declined by 16 percent and the Renault Group experienced a 9.6 percent decline in sales.
Car sales were down 15.8 percent at Ford, 0.8 percent at Fiat Group and 4.7 percent at BMW. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford is forecasting a loss of $2bn (£1.3bn, €1.5bn) in Europe for 2013, as it is planning a plant closure in Genk, Belgium.
General Motors is scheduled to close one of its Opel brand's five car plants in Germany in 2014. GM estimates €4bn in investments in Europe through 2016 to upgrade equipment and add models.
Among Asian carmakers, the world's biggest auto manufacturer Toyota Motor's sales in Europe plunged 17 percent, while Hyundai saw a 10 percent decline. Nissan sales were down 9.9 percent.