LONDON - European sales got off to a good start in January, up 10.3 percent. Half the additional sales were in Italy. The Italian market was the biggest in Europe, and 32.1 percent higher than in January 1997.
Germany, usually the largest market, was down 1.2 percent on the same month last year.
A 13.0 percent rise in France was expected, as sales last year were depressed. French carmakers continued to outperform their home market.
Peugeot was up 21.5 percent, helped by strong sales of the 106 mini and lower-medium 306. Renault was 18.1 percent higher than a year ago, with much of the difference accounted for by high sales of the Megane and Clio supermini, which is to be replaced soon.
PSA's share of the European market rose 0.9 points to 11.5 percent. Renault had a 10.0 percent share, up from 9.4 percent. Toyota overtook Nissan, selling 37,120 units against 35,906.