TURIN – Fiat S.p.A.'s new-car sales declined more than the overall Italian market last month, according to Italian dealer body Federauto.
Sales of the Fiat, Alfa and Lancia brands declined nearly 40 percent in October while foreign competitors suffered a combined 23 percent decline, leading to an overall drop in Italy of 29 percent to about 140,000 units, Federauto said.
According to official numbers from the Italian Transport Ministry, the country's car sales fell 28.82 percent in October to 139,740 units,
A main reason Fiat Group and Italy were down so sharply in October is due to a comparison with artificially inflated sales during the same period last year. Car buyers flocked to dealers in late 2009 to take advantage of the final weeks of government-sponsored scrapping incentives, which provided cash to people who bought small, fuel-efficient models such as the Fiat Panda and Punto.
Sales in October 2009 rose 16.1 percent to 196,323 units.
Fiat Group was the biggest beneficiary of the incentives and therefore is taking the hardest post-scrapping hit, down 39.5 percent in October to about 38,500 units.
“There is no doubt that we are suffering right now, but Fiat is putting strategies in place aimed at regaining the lost ground,” Piero Carlomagno, Fiat dealer association president, said in a statement Tuesday.
Carlomagno said that new Fiat models that are part of the company's five-year industrial plan launched in April should help the brand recover.
Adolfo De Stefano, president of the Italian Mercedes dealer association, said in a statement that premium brands are suffering smaller declines in 2010 because of the steep loses they felt last year as customers shunned bigger, more expensive cars, which didn't qualify for the government subsidy.
From January to September, Italian new-car sales declined 4.4 percent to 1.54 million units, but double-digit volume decreases have been the norm since April.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne last month warned that Italian sales would fall by an average of 30 percent in the final quarter of the year.
Full-year sales in Italy are expected to slip to 1.95 million units from 2.16 million units last year – a decline of 10 percent.