In Europe, automobile industry on bumpy road Share This: UPI 4/17/2013 6:27:32 PM BRUSSELS, April 17 (UPI) -- New car registration in the 27-member Europe Union dropped 10.2 percent in March from the same month of 2012, a trade group reported. The numbers across the spectrum look dour for the automobile industry in March. Registrations in the 27-member region dropped from 1.5 million in 2012 to 1.3 million in March this year, the European Automobile Manufacturer's Association reported. In addition, in the first three months of the year sales fell 9.8 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and that put sales at the lowest level since it began keeping track in 1990. In that year, only 15 countries were were in the EU, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Economists, including those at the International Monetary Fund, a frequently cited source, are predicting a year of economic contraction in the eurozone, the IMF this week lowering its forecast for 2013 contraction from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent. Across Europe, 26 million people are unemployed and the pervasive strategy across the continent calls for austerity budgeting, rather than stimulus spending that would put more people into jobs. Figures for the automobile industry are down country by country and company by company. The only EU nation with an annual sales gain in March was Britain, where sales rose 4.9 percent from March 2012. In the two largest economies in Europe, Germany and France, sales dropped 17.1 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively. Sales were off 9 percent at Volkswagen, which leads the continent in sales. At the second largest European producer, PSA Peugeot Citroen, sales were down 16 percent. U.S company fared no better. Ford Motor Co. sales in March were down 15.8 percent from March 2012. GM sales were off 17.6 percent.