Peugeot Citroen car sales slump in 1st quarter on weak European markets

PARIS – PSA Peugeot Citroen said Wednesday crumbling automobile markets across Europe lay behind a steep drop in its first quarter sales.

The parent company of Peugeot and Citroen reported a 10.3 per cent drop in sales at its automobile division to 8.7 billion euros ($11.3 billion) for the January to March period, down from 9.7 billion euros a year earlier.

Combined Peugeot and Citroen vehicle sales fell 16.9 per cent in Europe, where it saw its market share slip as the overall car market fell 10 per cent.

In a statement Wednesday the company said it expects the European car market to decline 5 per cent over the full year.

Including PSA’s car parts and financing arms, total revenue in the quarter fell 6.5 per cent to 13 billion euros.

The Paris-based carmaker is battling back from last year’s record €5 billion loss as Europe’s cratering car market combined with rising raw material prices to hammer earnings.

Peugeot Citroen sold 674,000 fully assembled vehicles globally in the first quarter, a 2.5 per cent drop from a year earlier.

Car demand in Europe declined in March for the 18th consecutive month, figures from the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association show. France’s new car market fared worse than the European average, falling 14.6 per cent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier.

Peugeot’s problems highlight the current woes facing Europe’s carmakers. Unable to draw on government incentive schemes such as the “cash-for-clunkers” promotions launched in 2008-2009, manufacturers are suffering from falling sales.