European new car sales rose for two consecutive months for the first time since 2011 as a cash-for-clunkers program in Spain and a regional economic recovery spurred consumers to purchase vehicles.
Registrations in October advanced 4.6 percent from a year earlier to 1.04 million autos, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement. Sales in September climbed 5.5 percent.
A record six-quarter recession in the 17 countries sharing the euro ended in the three months through June, and consumer confidence in the area rose in October. Registrations gained in four of the top five auto markets, including a 34 percent jump in Spain. Sales were propelled by increases of 14 percent at Renault SA (RNO) and 6.2 percent at General Motors Co. (GM:US)
“What we can say with certainty is that we reached the bottom” in European auto sales earlier this year, Thomas Besson, a Paris-based analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, said by phone. “There’s a kind of artificial flavor with Spain, since it’s their fourth cash-for-clunkers plan to preserve their industrial base and push internal demand.”
European car-sales growth in October was helped by new models such as Renault’s Captur compact crossover and the latest version of GM’s mid-size Opel Insignia. The back-to-back monthly gains were the first since August and September 2011, ACEA Economics and Statistics Director Quynh-Nhu Huynh said.
Industrywide European sales are still set for a sixth straight annual contraction, with 10-month demand falling 3.1 percent to 10.4 million cars.
Spain’s government approved the renewal of state car-sales incentives on Oct. 25, offering a 1,000-euro ($1,350) matching subsidy for dealer discounts on trade-ins of seven- to 10-year-old vehicles. The new cars must be more fuel efficient and be priced at 25,000 euros or less. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the previous three cash-for-clunkers efforts contributed to 300,000 vehicle purchases.
In addition to Spain, car sales increased last month in Germany, the U.K. and France. Italy was the only auto market of the five biggest in Europe to post a decline.
European sales at Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen AG (VOW), the region’s biggest carmaker, rose 5.7 percent in October, propelled by jumps of 24 percent at the Skoda brand and 15 percent at the Seat nameplate, while registrations gained 1.4 percent at the namesake VW marque. The Audi division, the world’s second-biggest maker of luxury vehicles, posted a 0.5 percent decline.
Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, posted a 16 percent European sales gain at the entry-level Dacia brand, which has revised the Sandero hatchback and Logan sedan. Registrations at the main Renault marque rose 13 percent.
GM’s Chevrolet division sold 6.6 percent more cars, while demand at the European nameplates Opel and Vauxhall rose 6.1 percent. Models that Detroit-based GM has begun selling in Europe in the past year also include the South Korean-made Mokka compact sport-utility vehicle, which Opel will produce in Spain next year, and the Adam city car.
“Car sales have been falling for so long that the aging fleet in Europe alone could be a reason for a moderate pick up,” Jean-Francois Belorgey, who runs consulting company EY’s automotive business in France, said by phone before the ACEA released figures. “New sport-utility vehicles being introduced by several companies may also be pushing sales.”
European sales at Mercedes-Benz, the world’s third-biggest maker of luxury vehicles, rose 8.5 percent last month. The gain more than offset a 3.6 percent drop at the Smart city-car unit to boost group registrations at Stuttgart, Germany-based parent company Daimler AG (DAI) by 7 percent.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the global premium-car market leader, sold 0.3 percent more cars in Europe.
Mercedes has won customers with a refreshed compact lineup, including the all-new CLA-Class coupe, as well as a revamp of the up-market E-Class sedan. Munich-based BMW began selling the 4-Series coupe, which shares underpinnings with its best-selling 3-Series sedan, in September. A new generation of its X5 SUV is entering dealerships this month.
October European car sales also rose at Japanese producers Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), which posted a 17 percent jump in registrations, and Nissan Motor Co. (7201), with a 5.1 percent gain.
European registrations declined 0.7 percent at Paris-based PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG), the region’s biggest carmaker; 0.2 percent at Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. (F:US); 7.3 percent at Italian manufacturer Fiat SpA (F); and 2.3 percent at South Korean producer Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)
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