TURIN - New passenger car sales in Italy rose 2.6 percent in the first half of 2000, to 1.4 million.
The total doesn't include about 20,000 registered in May and June but not put in the Transportation Ministry database due to a strike at the company that runs its computer system. Taking these units in account, the January-June growth was just over 4 percent.
However, Italian sales are slowing from the record pace set earlier in the year. For example, January sales grew 18.5 percent and February 11.8 percent, taking the first quarter up 11.2 percent.
But the outlook for the whole year remains promising. Industry analysts say the year will close at 2.4 million units, up a little over 1.3 percent on 1999 figures.
Fiat Auto's effort to regain market share is not yet paying dividends. In the first half its share was up just 0.6 of a point, from 36.2 percent to 36.8 percent.
The Japanese sales total increased by 11.55 percent - but the growth all came from Toyota. Thanks to booming sales of the Yaris supermini, Toyota sales climbed 83.8 percent.
Smart sales rose from 4,249 in first-half 1999 to 13,851 in January-June 2000.
Sales of diesel models are reaching record levels in Italy. They had 33.2 percent of the market in the first half.