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April 6, 2005

GERMANY: 1% March sales fall better than expected

German new car registrations fell 1% in March, extending a weak streak this year, but nonetheless were much better than some previous industry forecasts, auto industry association VDA told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

German new car registrations fell 1% in March, extending a weak streak this year, but nonetheless were much better than some previous industry forecasts, auto industry association VDA told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

Registrations in Europe’s biggest car market reportedly declined to 330,000 vehicles last month, according to preliminary estimates – that brought the cumulative fall in the first quarter to 2% compared with the first three months of 2004.

Adjusted for two fewer working days, though, registrations rose by 9%, the VDA said – “The registration result in March turned out to be considerably better than was recently assumed,” it said in a statement cited by Reuters..

The news agency noted that the German VDIK association of auto importers had forecast a cumulative fall of 3.3% for the first quarter, while prominent German industry forecaster Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer had predicted a 6% decline for March.

Georg Flandorfer, head of sales at Volkswagen’s VW brand, reportedly had gone so far as to say early this month that a drop of 10% in March registrations would lead to a cumulative 6% drop in the first-quarter figure.

Reuters noted that the VDA, which forecasts a sales dip this year to around 3.25 million cars, has said the weak domestic economy, record post-war unemployment and high fuel prices continue to deter potential car buyers, but it has held out hope that new models and growing replacement demand would boost the market as the year went on.

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