FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG and BMW AG led gains in European car sales as new models drove deliveries and the German carmakers' home market expanded faster than neighboring countries' deliveries fell.
European registrations climbed 1.1 percent to 1.27 million vehicles from 1.26 million units a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, said in a statement.
Nine-month sales declined 0.8 percent to 10.5 million registrations.
"The German manufacturers are in a better situation than others in Europe, they continue to win market share," said Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler. Germany's sales will rise by 5 percent to 10 percent the rest of this year, he said.
Volkswagen models introduced in the past year included a new version of the Passat mid-sized car and a revamped Audi A6 sedan. BMW in turn redesigned its mid-size 5-series line last year, and its global deliveries of the X3 SUV tripled last month. Renault SA too has seen healthy demand for its DS3 and DS4 compacts.
Volkswagen Group sales increased 12.5 percent to 294,309 units last month, while BMW delivered 79,920 cars in the same period, gaining 6.8 percent. Renault's registrations rose 1.5 percent to 110,198.
Industry sales in Germany gained 8.1 percent to 280,689 in September, the ACEA said. Figures released by the ACEA include the 27 members of the European Union plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Western European car sales, which exclude figures from the eastern European and Mediterranean island nations that have joined the EU since 2004, increased 1.1 percent to 1.2 million vehicles.
Market may shrink further
Executive and consumer confidence in the 17-nation euro area fell to almost a two-year low in September, reflecting growing concern that the sovereign-debt crisis may lead to a recession, according to European Union figures released last month.
Jonathon Poskitt, an automotive analyst at J.D. Power & Associates, said western Europe's car market may shrink a second consecutive year in 2012.
J.D. Power estimates that industrywide car sales in western Europe will fall to 12.6 million vehicles from the 12.8 million deliveries anticipated this year and the 13 million posted in 2010. "The risk is if anything skewed towards the downside, so things could get a lot worse," Poskitt said by telephone. "If the euro zone slips back into recession, we could be looking at a much weaker market next year."
European sales by PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, the region's second-largest carmaker after Volkswagen, dropped 13 percent to 133,469. Daimler AG, whose Mercedes-Benz division is the world's third-biggest luxury-vehicle maker after BMW and VW's Audi brand, posted a 7.4 percent European sales decline to 65,099 deliveries, led by a 23.3 percent drop for its Smart brand, which sold 6,222 units last month.
Sources: Bloomberg; with contributions from David Jolley