EU auto sales were better in September than in either July or August. But 'better', of course, is a relative word these days.
As the chart shows, they were only down 10% versus 2009 levels, whereas July and August were down 19% and 13% respectively. But in terms of absolute volume, sales at 1.2m were well short of the average September figure of 1.4m between 2003-7.
The figures also confirm that the earlier 'cash for clunkers' programmes were a complete waste of money. As in the USA, these only brought forward sales, and didn't create sustainable new demand. Thus ACEA (European Automobile Association) report that in September, "all major markets contracted, by 8% in France, 9% in the UK, 18% in Germany, 19% in Italy and 27% in Spain".
Now, austerity programmes are replacing stimulus. And with major markets such as France in the middle of major strike actions, it seems likely that Q4 demand trends will continue to weaken.