Total passenger car registrations fell for the first time in 34 months in July, according to international statistics company JATO.
The company said 1.16m cars were registered across 29 European markets in July 2016, down from 1.18m in July last year. This was the first fall since August 2013.
The fact there were two fewer working days in July this year was one contributing factor JATO suggested.
Of the so called ‘big five economies’, The UK, Italy and Spain recorded year-on-year increases of 0.1%, 2.6% and 4.4%, respectively.
This wasn’t enough to counterbalance a 3.9% fall in the German market, and a 9.6% fall in French sales over the period.
Volkswagen (down 10.6% year-on-year), Peugeot and Skoda (both down 10.5% year-on-year) bore the brunt of the fall, though Audi sales also fell in the month (down 5.2%).
Volkswagen remained the largest brand in the month, with 136,630 cars sold in July 2016, still over 50,000 cars more than its nearest competitor, Ford, which sold 84,062 cars (up 0.5% year-on-year).
Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics said: “July marked the first decline in new car registrations in almost three years. This was largely driven by market conditions but there have been some significant drops recorded by some of the most popular models and brands.”