European sales fall
EUROPEAN CAR sales fell 2 percent in April. Most markets had 20 working days in the month, compared with 22 last April.
Germany fell by an estimated 10.2 percent. But a market analyst at one German carmaker said, 'This month is just a blip.' Germany's order backlog was 810,000 at the end of March, according to manufacturers' association VDA - the highest for five years.
Some sales were pulled forward into March by a 1 percent VAT rise in Germany and a new registration fee in the UK. The UK was also hit by bad weather.
France had one working day fewer than in April 1997, and the recovery is slower than many observers had expected.
Spain is on course for about 1.1 million sales this year.
Ireland sales up
DUBLIN - Against all expectations, sales of new cars in Ireland continued at record levels for the first four months of 1998. Unit sales of 72,000 in the period were 14 percent above last year, when a government scrapping incentive was in place. Sales were expected to fall when it ended last December.
German makers demand low sulfur fuels
VIENNA - In a rare joint presentation, German automakers demanded a sharp reduction in sulfur content of gasoline and diesel fuels.
Friedrich Quissek, Volkswagen's head of group research for environment and traffic, spoke for leading engine developers at VW, Audi, Daimler-Benz, BMW and Porsche at the Vienna Motor Symposium.
The paper called for the oil industry to cooperate with the automobile industry, as it does in Japan. Fuel in Japan is refined enough for the NOx storage catalysts required by the most efficient gasoline direct-injection engines.
Renault VI and Iveco merge buses
PARIS - Renault VI and Iveco, the truck divisions of Renault and Fiat, will merge their bus operations. The partners will each own 50 percent.
The combined companies sell annually 4,500 buses, 1,500 chassis and 1,500 minibuses under six brands: Renault, Iveco, Heuliez, Pegaso, Orlandi, Karosa and Mack in Australia. Annual sales are FF6 billion ($1 billion).