“Demand decreased in all major EU markets,” the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said, with the biggest falls in Italy, down 9.6 percent, Spain 4.3 percent, Britain 3.4 percent and France 2.3 percent.
Germany’s Volkswagen Group, which is still trying to move past the “dieselgate” emissions scandal, saw sales decrease 1.1 percent but it remained Europe’s top carmaker.
French carmaker PSA (Peugeot, Citroen and Opel), the second ranked by market share, saw sales dip 1.4 percent in March compared to 2018.
By volume, auto sales in March fell to 1.72 million from 1.79 million a year earlier.
For the three months to March, auto sales were down 3.3 percent compared with first quarter 2018.
The association had warned in February — when total sales fell 1.0 percent — that manufacturers could expect the car market to remain “stable at best” in 2019, forecasting growth of “less than one percent”.