November sales: Europe is slowly recovering image

European new-car sales rose a third consecutive month in November, the longest period of gains in four years, as demand for autos from Volkswagen AG and Renault SA contributed to signs that an industrywide decline is finally ending.

Renault, Toyota and VW led a 1.2 % November gain in European car sales, according to industry data published on Tuesday, pulling ahead of Fiat, General Motors and Ford. The growth followed gains of 4.6 % in October and 5.5 % in September. The total tally in the EU was 938,021 registrations according to the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA.

From January to November, 10,945,360 new cars were registered, or 2.7% less than in the first eleven months of 2012. The economy of the 17 nations sharing the euro will probably expand this quarter, continuing growth after a six-quarter recession in the region ended in the three months through June, according to analysts

New vehicles boosting car sales in Europe include the Golf hatchback and Skoda Rapid Spaceback wagon at Volkswagen, the region’s biggest carmaker, and the Captur compact crossover at Renault. VW and Renault posted respective increases of 0.8 % and 2.6 % for their namesake mid-market brands – and bigger gains in no-frills cars – that helped group sales to rise 3.2 % and 8.9 %.

Sales by Italy’s Fiat tumbled 5.8 % across the market of 30 European states as demand for its ageing model line-up fades – leading to a further 8 % contraction so far this year. GM sales dropped 3.8 % as both main brands fell. The U.S. carmaker is withdrawing the underperforming Chevrolet badge from Europe to focus on reviving mid-market Opel.
Ford also retreated 2.9 % last month. In a move designed to lift its brand and margins, the smaller U.S. carmaker is pulling back from loss-making sales to rental companies and other budget-conscious fleet customers, ahead of a coming model offensive for the region.

In November, the UK (+7.0%) and Spanish (+15.1%) markets contributed to the overall 1.2% upturn. Demand in Germany (-2.0%), France (-4.0%) and Italy (-4.5%) was lower than in the same month last year.

Via ACEA, Reuters, Bloomberg