More selling days, generous buyer incentives and fresh models helped new car registrations in western Europe advance 9.5% in November, snapping a four-month decline, official data showed on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Another powerful showing by German luxury automaker BMW and strong gains by Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia led the rally, while Japanese manufacturers posted mixed results, and Italy's hard-pressed Fiat had a dismal month again.

According to the report, Brussels-based car makers' group ACEA said November registrations of 1.14 million units brought the total number of cars sold in the first 11 months to just under 13.5 million - a rise of 1.7% from the same period of 2003.

Quirks of the calendar flattered results, Reuters noted. November had two more selling days this year in some countries and one extra day in major markets Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Registrations in Germany rose 11.1% thanks to new models and discount wars as manufacturers offered margin-eroding incentives to boost sales in Europe's biggest car market by far, the report said.

BMW saw registrations gain 18.3% to 57,576 cars, helped by its new 1-series premium compact and the urban-chic Mini brand. Volkswagen also profited from the boom on its German home turf. Registrations rose 12.5% to 219,652 cars amid strong VW and Audi brand sales. Its market share rose to 19.2% from 18.7%, Reuters said.

The news agency noted that Korean car makers continued to surf a wave of demand from wary customers seeking fuel-efficient, well-built cars at a competitive price. Kia boasted another remarkable month, boosting sales 128.3% to just over 16,000 units and doubling its market share to 1.4%, while registration growth for Kia's parent Hyundai accelerated to 34.1% after slowing in October to 4.2% - it grabbed 2.0% of the European market.

Rejuvenated A- and C-class models helped DaimlerChrysler registrations swell 12% as it sped out of a rough patch amid model changeovers while PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault both had gains but trailed market growth, Reuters said, adding that PSA boosted registrations 6.9% but saw its market share ease to 13.3% while Renault registrations rose 7.1% in the month, bumping its market share down to 11.3%.

Reuters said Fiat sales continued to crumble as its ageing Fiat-brand line-up suffered. Registrations retreated 7%, knocking more than a full point off its November market share to 6.8%.

Analysts told the news agency they think Fiat sales are set to stay weak until the new Punto hits the market next year.

Reuters said Toyota's market share dipped fractionally to 4.8% as registrations rose 7.6%, but its year-to-date share edged up to 5% from 4.8%.

Honda managed 30% growth, and even struggling Mitsubishi saw registrations rise 31.5%, but Mazda registrations fell 10% and Nissan's weak showing continued with a 6.8% drop, the news agency added.

General Motors' registrations advanced 12.3% as more than 100,000 Opel/Vauxhall models were signed up, while Ford registrations rose 8.9%, Reuters added.

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