BERLIN - European heavy-truck sales plunged 35 percent last month as the global recession ravaged the region’s main markets.

Manufacturers sold 20,068 trucks weighing 16 metric tons or more in January, compared with 30,755 a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said yesterday. Spain and Britain led the slump among larger western European markets, with declines of 76 percent and 40 percent respectively. Britain turned negative from a 13 percent increase in December. Germany, where business confidence hit a 26-year low this month, suffered a 28 percent January drop. The slide in sales was spurred by "a significant drop in demand in all categories," the ACEA said.

Truck sales have waned as the global financial crisis erodes demand for the transportation of goods, causing Daimler, Volvo and MAN, Europe’s top three manufacturers, to cut thousands of jobs. Sales plunged 58 percent in the 10 eastern countries that joined the European Union in 2004, with Poland, the biggest, suffering a 76 percent decline.

Profit at Daimler’s trucks division slumped 83 percent to 86 million euros in the quarter. Daimler is cutting 3,500 jobs, closing two North American factories and eliminating the Sterling brand as part of a plan to save $900 million a year by 2011.