Europe's financial mess only continues to get worse, at least as far as new car sales on the Continent are concerned.
Sales figured released today indicate that September new car registrations slid 37 percent in Spain, 26 percent in Italy and 18 percent in France. Spain and Italy have been hit especially hard by government-imposed austerity measures, and while France is more stable, it's obvious that buyers are staying away from new car showrooms.
At last week's Paris Motor Show, auto executives were hardly optimistic about the future of the industry. The prevailing opinion was that sales aren't likely to rebound until 2014 at the earliest and that production overcapacity hitting French, Italian and American automakers the most needs to be addressed.
Ford and Renault posted some of the industry's worst figures. The Michigan automaker's sales slid 32 percent in France and 40 percent in Spain, while France's Renault tumbled 36 percent in its home market and a whopping 51 percent in Spain.
Fiat, meanwhile, posted a 34 percent decline in France, but a big jump in demand for its new Panda helped it amass a "mere" 13 percent slide in Spain.
Europe's biggest automaker, Volkswagen, saw a 44 percent tumble in Spain and a 16 percent drop in France.
Automakers are further trimming their sales forecasts for the year after last month's abysmal showing. Renault anticipates a 13 percent drop in sales in its home market of France and it is suggesting a 7-8 percent drop in Europe primarily on the weak Spanish and Italian markets.