Foreign car manufacturers, while making inroads into Germany, face regional pockets of resistance in Europe's biggest car market that they are unlikely to conquer, a German study showed on Monday, according to Reuters.

The study by researchers RL Polk Marketing Systems showed that many German consumers not only prefer to buy German, they prefer to buy from just round the corner, the report said.

Europe's biggest car maker, Volkswagen, enjoys a 93% market share in its home town of Wolfsburg, compared with 18% in Germany as a whole, according to the study, Reuters said.

The market share of luxury brand BMW in its southern home state of Bavaria is twice as high as across the rest of the country, while Audi accounts for 80% of car sales in its home town of Ingolstadt, the report added.

Reuters noted that Germany's industrial icons may be relieved that brand loyalty is alive and well on their doorsteps, but they have still been losing ground to foreign rivals in their home market overall.

Most domestic car makers sold markedly fewer vehicles in Germany in the first six months of 2003 than in the year-earlier period, according to data from the country's department of motor vehicles (KBA), while unit sales of foreign, particularly Asian, manufacturers grew, the report said.

Only VW's main rival, Europe's second-biggest car maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen, has managed to make brand loyalty cross borders, the RL Polk study showed, according to Reuters, which noted that, in the western Saarland region, which borders France, the French firm controls 19% of the market compared with 3.3% in Germany as whole.

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