Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris
Registrations for new cars in the European Union slid 1.7 percent in 2013, manufacturer data showed Thursday, although country figures were varied, with Britain showing a big increase while sales in Italy and France slumped.
11.8 million new cars were sold across the bloc last year (not including Malta), according to the data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).
The 1.7-percent decline compared with 2012 confirmed a lingering morosity in the EU, which is still struggling after four years of a eurozone debt crisis.
However the decline was markedly less than the 8.2 percent dive recorded in 2012 -- which was the worst result for 18 years -- suggesting the overall market could be stabilising. In the last four months of 2013, registrations actually climbed, and December recorded a 13.3 percent increase.
The situation was brightest in Britain, an EU country which is not a member of the eurozone, with a 10.8-percent increase in new car registrations in 2013.
Beleaguered eurozone members Italy and France had a far worse year, with registrations plummeting 7.1 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.
The EU's biggest economy Germany saw registrations slide by 4.2 percent.
Japanese carmaker Mazda performed the best in EU-wide car sales, lifting registrations of its brand 16.1 percent across the bloc.
Jaguar Land Rover also did well, up 9.7 percent, while France's Renault managed a 4.4 percent hike.
Those left with smaller slices of the market were French group PSA Peugeot Citroen -- which US auto giant General Motors is selling out of -- after an 8.4-percent plummet in registration, and Italy's Fiat -- which this month took over US number three carmaker Chrysler -- after a 7.1-percent slump.
Genral Motors and Ford also faced headwinds in the EU, giving up 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
Germany's Volkswagen and BMW were pretty much stable, slipping just 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.
The manufacturers forecast 2014 sales would be stable or slightly higher.