Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

European car sales hit the skids

Car makers have temporarily closed factories to deal with falling demand

Car sales in Western Europe fell by 15.5% year-on-year in October and sales will remain weak, J.D. Power Automotive, a leading forecaster, said.

The fall in demand has been blamed on difficult economic conditions, expensive financing and reduced consumer confidence.

Sales will fall 10-11% in 2009, with the situation "at least as bad as during the recession in the 1990s".

Sales in Germany, France and UK have accelerated their decline lately.

"A sharp economic slowdown appears inevitable and the most important question which remains to be answered is how deep and long this event will be," J.D. Power said.

After a 23% fall in October, the UK market is seen as particularly vulnerable, with J.D Power predicting a "significant double-digit decline in 2009".

In Spain and Italy, where new car registrations have already fallen dramatically, "sales appear to be closing in on a more stable, but much reduced level".

J.D Power also warns that plans to introduce government-sponsored incentive schemes aimed at boosting sales will only have a ''limited impact" in the current economic climate.

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