MUNICH -- European auto production increased for the first time since July 2008 as output rose 11.4 percent in November to 1,436,968, according to estimates from J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting.
The market researcher also foresees a slight improvement in the region's production next year.
"European production prospects look positive for 2010 because the industry has largely removed its stock of unwanted cars, while export volumes are looking more positive," said Arthur Maher, J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting's head of European production. "We are looking for European build to finish the year down by 21 percent and recover by 3 percent in 2010."
Through 11 months, overall output is down 20.6% percent to 14,113,368 units in western and eastern Europe including Russia and Turkey.
November's gain was due to a combination of government-funded scrapping incentives, which have boosted auto demand in Europe's major markets, and the comparison with a very bad November 2008 when car markets began to freeze following the Lehman Brothers collapse in September.
In November 2008, production fell to 1,289,504 from 1,830,460 in November 2007, a decline of 30 percent, J.D. Power figures show. The increase in July 2008 was 4.3 percent to 1,666,102.
The big winners in November included Alfa Romeo, Renault brand and Lancia. All three reported year-on-year production gains of 93 percent or more. Renault was led by the Twingo's doubling of production to 17,517. (See chart, above right)
The Twingo is one the of cars benefiting from scrapping subsidies that offer up to 5,000 euros to customers who trade in their old cars for newer, more fuel-efficient models.
Meanwhile, Honda, Aston Martin and Suzuki each had a production decline of 40 percent or more last month.