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2008 marks worst year for new car sales since reunification

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15:45 CET+01:00
Last year was the worst for Germany's auto sector since the country was reunified in 1990, with sales down very sharply in the later months, the auto manufacturers federation VDA said Tuesday.

New car registrations fell two percent to 3.09, VDA said in a statement, with December alone down seven percent to 226,000 after a fall of 18 percent in November.

The outcome in Germany, Europe's biggest auto market, reflect trends worldwide as the global financial crisis cuts demand dramatically, especially in the United States whose automakers are struggling for survival.

VDA said German auto sales would remain weak in the coming months, with 2009 expected to post a drop of more than six percent at 2.9 million vehicles. All of the major German car makers and the auto parts group Bosch have announced longer than ususal plant shutdowns at the end of the year, and some have also eliminated temporary jobs, to cope with the slump in demand.

Auto manufacturing plays a key role in German industry and exports. According to VDA, one in every seven German jobs is linked to auto production.

A second economic stimulus package now under consideration in Berlin could included a measure to boost the industry, such as a bonus for junking old cars and buying new ones.

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