June 27, 2019 / 10:40 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-European car lobby cuts 2019 sales forecast to 1% fall

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BRUSSELS, June 27 (Reuters) - Europe's automotive lobby on Thursday cut its forecast for passenger car registrations this year to a 1% fall from a 1% rise, blaming slower growth and business concerns over Britain's impending exit from the European Union.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said it now expected car sales in the European Union to just exceed 15 million this year.

"It goes without saying that any additional barriers, costs or delays as a result of Brexit will pose a serious threat to jobs and growth in the auto industry, both in the UK as well as in the EU," ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert said in statement.

"Aside from the uncertainty due to Brexit and changing macroeconomic conditions, this represents a natural stabilization of the market."

In its industry guide published on Thursday, ACEA said production of vehicles in Europe dropped 0.2% from 2017 to 2018, amid a global decline of 0.6%.

Production of passenger cars in the EU was down 1.4% in 2018 from the year before, it added.

The bloc produces about a quarter of the world's passenger cars, led by Germany's strong auto manufacturing industry, employing some 13.8 million Europeans, according to ACEA.

For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars grew, rising 1.9% from the year before.

Jonnaert said that put European carmakers at risk of not meeting the bloc's 2020 emissions reduction targets.

"The prospect of fines for not reaching the 2020 CO2 target is to varying degree a serious concern for carmakers," he said, adding the increase was due partly to a rise in sales of higher-emitting petrol cars following a scandal over diesel pollution.

The share of new diesel passenger cars has decreased since 2015, when Volkswagen admitted it had cheated U.S. emissions tests by using software installed in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide.

In 2018, petrol engines powered more than half of new passenger cars in the EU, while diesel accounted for 35.9%. Hybrid electric, electrically-chargeable and other alternatively powered cars accounted for 7.4%. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Mark Potter)

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