The provisional figures just released by Acea for the European car
market to October suggest that sales for the month fell by 0.8% to 1,168,750 from
1,178,209. That kept the YTD gain at 5.6% with sales of 12,990,565 from 1,230,316. The dip
was in line with expectations and was brought about by ten of the eighteen countries
declaring negative results for the month. The most significant downturn was that in
Germany where sales for the month were said to be 10.8% down at 292,000 from 327,296.

However, ACEA figures for Germany are always an estimate and can vary by a thousand or so
units, enough to soften the perceived damage but not enough to overturn the deficit. The
WAIT forecast for Germany for the full year is 3.85 million and the October result puts
the sector right on track for that total.

The UK also registered negative growth in October, but that was not a
surprise, but the 7.9% drop in Austria to 23,099 from 25,088 was a little larger than
would have been expected. Austria is due to change to the downward slope, but it had been
thought that there was still one or two months of growth left.

Denmark suffered a 12.8% drop in sales to 10,059 from 11,541 for the
month and that was exactly in line with forecast. Spain kept to the growth trail, lifting
sales by 7.5% for the month and 20.5% YTD and the market remains on course to meet our
forecast of 1.46 million, a long way clear of anything achieved in Spain in previous
years. Italy saw growth of 3.3% for the month and this was actually ahead of expectations,
and with Fiat likely to push for every sale that it can gather in before the end of the
year, Italy could beat the forecast of 2.29 million.

Fiat needs to get Punto firing on all cylinders quickly, but it
hasn’t happened yet. The number of advance orders received has exceeded their
expectations, but they still need to crank up production rates because they have only the
Seicento that is doing better this year than last year. Punto is a good car and will
certainly give Fiat the boost that they need, but it has to be sustained because
they’ve a long wait before their next all-new product.

The company that continues to rake in the gains is Peugeot who lifted
sales by 20.1% in October to 95,514 from 79,506. That meant that not only did Peugeot
outsell Fiat for the month, they also did better than Ford. The Peugeot 206 is a runaway
success, and deservedly so. Sales in Europe will undoubtedly top 400,000 units for the
full year, which would make the car Peugeot’s most successful model this current
decade. The other big gains are coming from the Korean contingent, the figures for whom
are not split by ACEA. Collectively the little group has lifted sales by 25.5% to 406,140
from 323,623. That means that market share has now edged above the 3% mark. Daewoo,
despite all the troubles back home, are thought to have boosted sales by over 30% to
around 170,000 units, with Hyundai lifting sales by nearly 20% to make up the balance. The
Koreans are being helped by some much improved model offerings of late, plus the currency
fluctuations are working well in their favour.