* French sales tumble 11 percent, tenth monthly decline
* Italian sales down 20 percent
* Fresh falls seen in Spain after uptick
(Adds official Italy sales, Italy comment)
By Laurence Frost
PARIS, Sept 3 Monthly car registrations fell
again in France and Italy in August with mass brands suffering
most as Mediterranean countries bore the brunt of the euro zone
debt crisis and its withering effect on consumer demand.
French sales tumbled 11 percent to 96,115 cars in August,
for a tenth monthly decline, the CCFA industry association said,
while Italian sales fell 20 percent to 56,447 units, their ninth
consecutive double-digit fall, according to automotive think
The August decline led Promotor to trim its full-year
forecast to 1.370 million units from a previous 1.379 million,
itself a cut from an outlook of more than 1.4 million units at
the end of June.
"Without intervention to help boost the purchasing power of
families via tax reductions and a relaunching of consumption it
will be very difficult to see any sign of recovery," Jacques
Bousquet, President of Italy's car industry association UNRAE,
said in a statement on Monday.
Spanish car sales rose 3.4 percent as customers rushed to
complete purchases and beat a sales tax rise in September.
Analysts said the downtrend would likely resume this month.
"We still do not see any signs of recovery on the horizon,"
said Flavien Neuvy, head of French auto-industry think tank
The country's main growth drivers are at a standstill, with
mass-market carmakers worst hit, Neuvy said. "We are seeing a
polarisation of demand, with premium and low-cost brands doing
The mid-market Renault brand saw domestic
registrations plummet 30 percent, even as its low-cost Dacia
marque recorded a 21 percent gain on runaway sales of its
no-frills Sandero subcompact and Duster SUV.
PSA Peugeot Citroen's domestic sales fell in line
with the local market's 11 percent drop. Europe's second-largest
automaker is cutting more than 10,000 jobs at home as it
struggles to stem mounting losses.
Ford, which recently doubled its full-year European
loss forecast to $1 billion, saw August sales plunge 17 percent
in France and 22 percent in Spain.
French annualised sales are down about 20 percent from their
2010 peak, compared with 35 percent for Italy and Spain,
"indicating the potential for further falls in France", Credit
Suisse analyst David Arnold said in a note.
Kia was among lower-cost brands that recorded
strong increases, as the South Korean automaker and affiliate
Hyundai continued to build on a combined European
market share that reached 5.9 percent in the first half - up 1.2
European No.1 Volkswagen also continued to grab
business from rivals. Sales by its namesake brand fell 7.4
percent in France and rose 8.7 percent in Spain, outperforming
VW's luxury Audi division delivered gains of 8.4 percent in
France and 9.7 percent in Spain, as luxury automakers advanced.
BMW also rose in both markets.
Fiat brand sales tumbled 34 percent in France and rose 13
percent in Spain.
Spain's market increase was the first in seven months, as
customers hurried to showrooms ahead of a Sept. 1 increase in
value-added tax (sales tax).
Some 10,000 consumers completed purchases they would
otherwise have made later, the ANFAC automakers' association
said - setting the scene for a challenging environment later
September and October "are going to be a disaster", Spanish
car dealers' association Faconauto said. Sales are set for a
sharp fall unless automakers discount even more aggressively, a
(Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Elena Berton in
Paris, Stephen Jewkes in Milan, and Robert Hetz in Madrid;
Editing by Dan Lalor and David Cowell)