The European automakers' association says car sales were down 6.6 percent for the first half of the year compared with the same time in 2012.

ACEA said in a release on Tuesday that 6.205 million cars were sold from January to June in the European Union, providing further grim reading for an industry struggling in a deep recession.

The car industry also suffered its worst June since 1996, with demand falling 5.6 percent to 1.134 million cars. The figures exclude Malta and Croatia.

Car registrations have been on an almost uninterrupted decline for nearly two years. There was a small bounce in April, due to extra working days this year.

While car sales were falling across Germany, France and Italy, one bright spot was the UK, where numbers were up.