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A New Beetle Cabrio, left, and a Golf VII photographed in the elevators of the storage of German Volkswagen car producer in Wolfsburg , northern Germany, Thursday Match 14, 2013.Sebastian Kahnert/The Associated Press

Europe's car market shrank a further 10.2 per cent in February, with sales of new vehicles falling to 829,359, according to figures from the Association of European Car Manufacturers (ACEA).

Sales hit a 17-year low in 2012 and this year is shaping up to be another tough slog for mass-market carmakers as consumers in recession-hit European economies continue to postpone purchases.

Ford Motor Co. Ltd.'s sales dropped at twice the rate of the overall market's decline for a third straight month, dropping 20.8 per cent to 53,660 cars. Ford is cutting back its European production capacity with three plant closures to stem regional losses.

General Motors Co. and Fiat SpA were the next biggest fallers, dropping 20.1 per cent and 15.7 per cent respectively.

Carmakers in Europe are still reeling from a terrible 2012. Mass-market manufacturers lost an estimated $7-billion (U.S.) in the region last year, Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said at the Geneva car show this month.

European car sales fell 8.2 per cent to 12.05 million vehicles last year.

Market forecaster LMC Automotive recently estimated that this year's sales would drop 3.1 per cent in western European to 11.4 million vehicles, compared with about 12.8 million and 13 million in 2011 and 2010 respectively.

European market leader Volkswagen saw sales of its core VW brand fall nearly 10 per cent and its luxury Audi brand decline 3.8 per cent.

Only three brands managed to add sales in February. Korea's Hyundai, usually a bright spot, eked out a 1.4 per cent gain. Mazda rose 13.1 per cent and Honda 27 per cent.

Another bright spot was the U.K., where sales rose 7.9 per cent.

"All other significant markets faced a downturn, ranging from 9.8 per cent in Spain to 10.5 per cent in Germany, 12.1 per cent in France and 17.4 per cent in Italy," the ACEA said in a statement.