Automotive News EuropeLONDON - Italian car sales rose sharply in October, supported by government scrapping incentives. The market was up 58.3 percent, compared with October 1996.
Germany did better than expected, with sales up 8.4 percent. The result was the country's second-best this year. 'October represents a turning point for Germany,' said Arthur Maher, head of European forecasting at JD Power-LMC in the UK. 'The boom in new-car orders over the past few months is translating into car sales. The economy is also improving.'
Maher expects German sales to grow 5.0 percent next year to 3.7 million units.
Incentives helped boost sales in Spain, which was up 12.2 percent.
France was the only major market to suffer a fall. Sales were down 18.3 percent compared with last year, slightly worse than expected.
Sales in all of Europe have risen 3.7 percent in the year to date.
Volkswagen Group sales in October rose 9.7 percent compared with October 1996, giving it 17.0 percent of the market.
Much of the increase was due to Seat's 55.6 percent jump in sales. 'Seat has had a spectacular year,' said Maher.
The VW brand fell slightly because of slow Golf deliveries.
Fiat Group rose 21.1 percent, with higher sales in Italy outweighing lower sales in some other countries. The group, including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia brands, ranked second behind Volkswagen in October, with 12.6 percent of the European market. For the full year, GM still ranks second ahead of Fiat.
PSA and Renault did well considering the poor French market. Exports to Spain and the UK were key. Citroen was up 10.7 percent. Renault sales increased 6.1 percent.
'It is a case of 1/8export or die' for both French and Japanese manufacturers,' said Maher. Japanese carmakers' sales rose 12.9 percent in October.