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European car sales fall 10.2 percent in February

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

MILAN (Reuters) - Europe's new car market shrank a further 10.2 percent in February, according to figures from the Association of European Car Manufacturers on Tuesday.

Ford <F.M>, General Motors <GM.N> and Fiat <F.MI> were the worst performers, as European car registrations fell to 829,359 vehicles after hitting a 17-year low in January.

Car makers in Europe are still reeling from a terrible 2012, when annual car sales volumes in the EU fell 8.2 percent to 12.05 million vehicles in 2012. In the euro zone, they dropped 11.3 percent to just under 9 million, according to Reuters calculations.

This year is shaping up to be another tough slog for mass market car makers, as consumers in recessionary European economies postpone new car purchases.

For 2013, market forecaster LMC Automotive recently estimated a 3.1 percent drop in western European sales to 11.4 million vehicles, compared with levels of around 12.8 and 13 million in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

European market leader Volkswagen's sales <VOWG_p.DE> of its core VW brand fell nearly 10 percent, and sales of its luxury brand Audi fell 3.8 percent.

Korean brands Hyundai <005380.KS> and Kia <000270.KS>, usually a bright spot, gained 1.4 percent and dropped 1.1 percent respectively. The duo have made a name for themselves with attractively designed affordable cars that enjoy long warranties.

Another bright spot was the UK, where sales rose 7.9 percent.

(Reporting By Jennifer Clark, editing by Stephen Jewkes and Alison Birrane)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130319/european-car-sales-fall-102-percent-february