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Opel's struggles on home turf hit GM's European sales

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Opel's struggles on home turf hit GM's European sales

Douglas A. Bolduc

Automotive News Europe -- May 19, 2010 06:01 CET

MUNICH -- The end of scrapping incentives in Germany is hurting sales at General Motors Co.'s top European brand and contributing to GM's car sales slump in Europe.

Opel is struggling in its home market, where its new-car sales slid 55 percent to 17,207 units in April and were down 36 percent to 68,301 registrations after four months, according to Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). Both declines were worse than the overall market, which decreased 32 percent in April and slipped 26 percent during the first four months.

Trouble in Germany contributed to last month's 19 percent drop in European new-car sales at Opel and UK sister brand Vauxhall. Through four months, Opel/Vauxhall's European sales have decreased by 4 percent to 340,888 registrations, data from industry association ACEA shows.

Combined with slumping April sales at subsidiary Chevrolet, the total European volume at GM's three-brand group fell 19 percent to 95,706 registrations last month and declined 5 percent to 403,953 units in the first four months of the year. (Click on Estimated European registrations by manufacturer – April, right)

Opel's sales are falling at home amid uncertainty over whether it will get German state aid to help fund its recovery.

Opel is seeking more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in loan guarantees from Germany. The Loan Guarantee Committee, which is advising on the matter, met last week but did not make any recommendations. Any decision on state aid is likely to be made by senior members of the government, in conjunction with the states affected by Opel's restructuring.

Opel CEO Nick Reilly expects Germany to make its decision on aid by the end of the month.

Germany No. 1 despite declines

Germany was Europe's top sales market in April (259,414 registrations) and also led after four months (929,824) despite declines of more than 25 percent in the month and the January-April period.

France was second in sales in April with a volume of 190,917 units, a 1.9 percent gain on April 2009. (Click on Estimated European registrations by country – April, above)

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100519/ANE/100519888/1193#ixzz0oNwzKHq7

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