Fiat Auto posted a trading loss of EUR85m in the third quarter of 2005, a two-thirds reduction compared to the EUR282m trading loss posted in Q3 2004.

The company said the improvement was achieved in the face of lower volumes, and underscores the new strategy focused on higher margins due to a more favourable product mix and greater use of more profitable sales channels.

The trading performance also benefited from reduction in product and governance costs, as well as streamlined R&D.

Revenues increased 0.6% year on year to EUR4.3bn in the third quarter. Improved product mix and the positive foreign exchange effect stemming from sales in Brazil and Poland effectively offset lower volume.

Sales were impacted by intense competitive pressure and a slowdown in sales of existing models ahead of upcoming new product launches. But 35,000 orders have been received for the new Grande Punto in Italy.

Fiat Auto delivered 378,700 vehicles, down 5.9% from the same period of 2004. Unit sales decreased in all major European countries (-6.1% in Italy), with the exception of France, where they were up 5.8%, and Spain, where they were unchanged. Deliveries also fell in Poland, while Fiat unit sales outpaced the market in Brazil (10.4% against 8%), lifting market share from 24.5% to 24.8%.

Maserati had revenues of EUR114m in the third quarter, up 37% from the same period in 2004. The improvement stemmed from higher volumes, thanks to the success of the Quattroporte and sales of the special MC12 highway models.

The Maserati trading loss was EUR10m, compared to a EUR13m in Q3 2004. The improvement was the result of higher volume and a better sales mix, more than offsetting the negative foreign exchange effect.

Ferrari posted revenues of EUR302m and closed the quarter with a trading profit of EUR42m, up EUR12m from Q3 2004. The increase reflects higher sales volumes and efficiency gains, offsetting negative foreign exchange effects.

Fiat Powertrain Technologies, encompassing all group engine and transmission activities, posted revenues of EUR670m in the quarter.

Production was partially allocated to the Fiat Auto, while sales to third parties totalled EUR137m.

Trading profit was EUR9m.