Euro Auto Trends

Fiat and Toyota: European car sales on the rise

Posted in Market Trends by jonas on the November 22nd, 2006

New car sales in Europe rose 3.6 per cent in October, the first advance in five months, as Fiat and Toyota continued to post double-digit gains, industry data showed.

Japan’s Nissan also snapped a slide this year with a month of solid sales, while premium carmakers DaimlerChrysler and BMW saw sales slip in a market swept up in a price war.

The fact that last month had one more working day in most markets contributed to the rise in new car registrations to 1.21 million vehicles, bringing market growth in the first 10 months to just 0.4 per cent.

“This year’s result, although positively influenced by one extra working day with respect to October 2005 across the whole region, is a sign of recovery after four consecutive months of decline,” Brussels-based carmakers group ACEA said.

High fuel prices and rising interest rates in some countries have cooled demand of late for new cars, which piles pressure on manufacturers to push sales with margin-eroding incentives, unless they have hot new products to drive showroom traffic.

Fiat has had a sales boon from its Grande Punto and Panda small cars plus the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan. New car registrations for the Italian group advanced 16 per cent year-on-year, with a 17.8 per cent increase at its core Fiat brand. Alfa Romeo brand sales gained 16.2 per cent.

Japan’s Toyota, the world’s second-biggest automaker, saw sales of its flagship Toyota brand rise 13.8 per cent to over 66,000 units, while registrations of its premium brand Lexus advanced more than two-thirds to 2,835 cars.

Solid sales of its Aygo, Yaris and Corolla models have helped build its market share to nearly six per cent this year.

Audi, Seat and Skoda nudged Volkswagen group registrations up four per cent to more than 255,000 units, keeping it atop the European tables with a market share of 21.1 per cent in October and of 20 per cent so far this year.

Renault group sales dipped two per cent. Sales of Renault brand vehicles alone contracted 2.8 per cent as it focuses on profitable business, while sales at Dacia, maker of the no-frills Logan family car, swelled over 40 per cent.

A robust French market in October helped sales at PSA Peugeot Citroen rise 7.1 per cent, paced by the Peugeot brand.

BMW, the world’s biggest premium carmaker, saw group registrations slip 3.9 per cent as a slight gain at its core BMW brand was wiped out by declines at Mini, where output fell while it ramped up a new model for launch before year’s end.

Asian carmakers had another mixed month.

Honda’s sales advanced almost 14 per cent, continuing its strong showing this year, and Mazda Motor Corp showed a gain of 8.2 per cent.

Sales at South Korea’s Kia Motors jumped 11 per cent in October but were still down more than 10 per cent so far this year. Kia was the fastest-growing brand in Europe in 2005.

Sister brand Hyundai, which has scaled back its forecast for European sales growth given tough market conditions, watched sales fall 13.5 per cent, taking its market share under two per cent in October.

General Motors group sales gained 5.4 per cent, helped by its entry-level Chevrolet brand and by Opel/Vauxhall, which has outsold the Renault brand in Europe so far this year.

Ford Motor Co also outperformed the market with a 4.5 per cent sales gain as the Ford brand and Volvo offset declines at premium marques Land Rover and Jaguar.

The ACEA data reflect registrations in all European Union countries except Malta and Cyprus and include Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

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