New car registrations in Germany, a key gauge of demand in one of the most important sectors of Europe's biggest economy, fell nearly three percent last year, official data showed Thursday.
Around 3.10 million new cars were registered in 2012, down from 3.17 million in 2011, the auto industry federation VDA said in its annual report. It said the sector had seen a particularly sharp decline in December, of 16 percent.
VDA president Matthias Wissmann said the figures were in line with expectations and the result of "insecurity" among consumers linked to the eurozone debt crisis. But he forecast a strong 2013 driven by foreign sales.
"We are seeing very dynamic growth in the auto industry outside of western Europe and the German auto industry has a over-proportional share of that," he said in a statement, citing Chinese demand in particular as a growth engine.
"We will do everything we can to maintain and develop our global market share of around one-fifth," he said. "Our growth potential lies on international markets."
The VDA forecast around three million new car registrations in Germany for 2013.