MUNICH - The German market declined 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 1999, compared with the same period last year. January-March sales were 972,500.
March registrations of 429,896 passenger cars was down slightly from 435,821 in March, 1998, when sales soared because of an increase in the country's VAT tax in April of last year.
The Volkswagen Group had a strong first quarter. The Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW brands all increased sales. The group total for the period was 292,000 - 10.7 percent above 1998's first quarter.
Second-place General Motors was down 11.6 percent in the first quarter even though the new Opel Astra performed well.
Ford group, including Jaguar and Volvo, was down 18.9 percent. The Ford brand was down 19.8 percent in the three-month period, despite the launch of the Focus.