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Fiat, Ford lead sales decline in Europe as Audi gains

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Fiat, Ford lead sales decline in Europe as Audi gains

Automotive News Europe -- September 16, 2010 10:40 CET

(Bloomberg) -- Fiat S.p.A., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. led a fifth-consecutive monthly drop in European car sales as the end of government incentives hit demand. Volkswagen AG's Audi luxury unit gained market share.

Registrations fell 12 percent to 731,503 vehicles in August from a year earlier, Brussels-based industry group ACEA said Thursday. Eight-month deliveries decreased 3 percent to 9.3 million.

Fiat declined 24 percent, while Ford slipped 20 percent and Toyota slumped 19 percent. European demand is declining as governments end or trim subsidies put in place to aid the auto industry during the economic crisis.

“The major markets are taking a hit from a high baseline last year and the withdrawal of the scrappage incentives,” said Ian Fletcher, an IHS Automotive analyst in London. “It seems most carmakers expected this would take place, and they're now managing as best they can.”

August sales fell in all five of the biggest markets of Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA, Europe's second-largest carmaker after Volkswagen AG, forecasts industrywide European sales will drop 7 percent for the full year, after rising 0.6 percent in the first half.

France's incentive program was trimmed on July 1 to 500 euros per traded-in car from 700 euros ($650) in the first half and 1,000 euros last year. Registrations in France fell 7.9 percent in August to 105,166, weighing on PSA, whose sales in Europe fell 13 percent last month.

German decline

In Germany, which offered the region's biggest incentives last year, deliveries plunged 27 percent to 200,885. The decline contributed to a 9.6 percent sales drop for Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen.

Germany's luxury automakers bucked the industry trend, either posting a sales increase or declines below the average for August. Deliveries from VW's Audi luxury division gained 3 percent last month, boosting the unit's market share by 0.8 percentage point to 5.2 percent. Audi is introducing a dozen models this year, including the A7 Sportback, a new version of the A6 sedan and the A1, its smallest car.

BMW AG, the world's largest maker of luxury cars, dropped 7.9 percent as sales of the Mini brand slumped 17 percent ahead of the introduction of face-lifted versions of the entire Mini range and a new model called the Countryman, a four-door crossover which goes on sale this week. The namesake BMW brand declined 6.2 percent.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100916/ANE/100919898/1193#ixzz0zhmxD2nR

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