Fiat S.p.A. has lifted its European new-car sales outlook for the second time this year, but the automaker's forecast remains more conservative than those of rivals and analysts.
Fiat expects total passenger-car sales in Europe (all EU members plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) to decline about 7 percent to 13.47 million, the carmaker said Oct. 21.
In July, Fiat predicted a 10 percent decline. The forecast given in April was for a 15 percent dip.
Automakers sold 14.48 million cars in Europe last year, according to industry association ACEA.
Fiat rival PSA/Peugeot Citroen said last week that it expects European sales to decline about 5 percent this year. PSA previously forecast a dip of about 7 percent.
Earlier this month, J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting changed its European volume prediction to a 6.4 percent decline from a 6.9 percent slide it had forecast in September.
Financial analysts at Goldman Sachs predict a 6 percent dip for Europe this year.
Hurt by Germany, Italy
Fiat said it expects a double-digit decline for Europe's new-car sales in the current quarter due to struggling markets such as Germany and Italy. Germany's sales were down 27.5 percent through September after being artificially inflated by government scrapping subsidies given in 2009 to maintain or boost registrations during the recession.
Europe's total new-car registrations were down 3.4 percent to 9.99 million through three quarters, according to ACEA.
Italy's sales are down 4.4 percent to 1.54 million units after nine months, but Fiat expects a decline of about 30 percent in the current quarter when compared with the record volume achieved during the same period last year as people took advantage of the final months of the country's scrapping program.
Fiat is more optimistic on light commercial vehicle sales, which it sees growing 5 percent this year in Europe and about 25 percent in Brazil. Fiat also expects Brazil's passenger-car sales to close the year up 2 percent to beat the record of 2.52 million units sold last year.
Brazil passed Germany in August to become the world's fourth-largest auto market bases on car and LCV sales. Brazil now trails China, the United States and Japan.
Through eight months, Brazil's car and LCV sales were up 8.4 percent to 2.08 million while Germany's volume fell 27.3 percent to 2.03 million, according to data from market researchers JATO Dynamics.
Fiat is Brazil's top-selling car brand and also is No. 1 in LCVs. Hefty profits from its Brazilian operations are keeping Fiat's auto operations in the black despite heavy losses in Europe.