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March 18, 2020, 3:14 a.m. EDT

EU car sales fall for a second month in a row

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By Cristina Roca

New car sales in the European Union fell in February according to data published on Wednesday, continuing January's downward trend as tax changes in some member states prompted consumers to move their purchases forward to December 2019 while worsening global economic condutions made customers uncertain.

Across the EU, new car registrations--a reflection of sales--fell 7.4% to 957,052 vehicles in February, said the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, known as ACEA.

Germany, the EU's biggest market, recorded an 11% drop in registrations in February, while the bloc's other major markets were also in decline. Italy recorded an 8.8% drop, Spain's registrations fell 6%, and France's declined 2.7%.

Car registrations in the U.K., which is no longer included in EU figures, fell 2.9% in February.

The decline, which is in line with January's 7.5% drop in car registrtations, is down to "a combination of factors," including changes to taxation in various EU countries, which incentivised customers to make their purchases in December last year. In the last month of 2019, sales rose more than 20%, the association said.

Weakening global economic conditions and consumer uncertainty were also behind February's decline, ACEA said.

For the first two months of 2020, car registrations were 7.4% lower at 1.9 million vehicles compared with 2.1 million during the same period a year earlier.

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