Europe sales drop 1.6%, in line with trend for year

Light-vehicle sales in Europe
  8 mos. 2001 Percent change
Germany 2,296,649 –1.9
  Italy 1,744,400 –0.5
  France 1,561,006 6.1
  United Kingdom 1,519,429 5.2
  Spain 1,022,928 2.7
  Netherlands 398,943 –12.1
  Belgium 361,367 –7.7
  Switzerland 223,138 –0.3
  Austria 216,989 –4.8
  Greece 210,101 –2.7
  Portugal 180,823 –3.9
  Sweden 163,348 –14.4
  Ireland 150,218 –28.5
  Finland 80,076 –20.3
  Denmark 66,802 –17.0
  Norway 63,203 –8.7
  Luxembourg 31,850 1.1
  Iceland 5,811 –43.9
Total 10,297,081 –1.0
Note: Excludes most commercial vehicles

LONDON - August new-vehicle sales in Western Europe fell 1.6 percent from year-ago levels.

Automakers sold 889,547 vehicles in 18 western European nations. The August decline matched trends for the year. For the January to August period, sales fell 1.0 percent, to 10.3 million.

ACEA, the European automakers' association, said the August results indicated a stable industry climate.

Among manufacturers, the top performer was France's PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. Its sales rose 10.8 percent in August and 8.7 percent in the first eight months, thanks to strong sales of the Peugeot 206 supermini and the Citroen Xsara Picasso minivan.

The Volkswagen group - which comprises the VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands - remained the leader in Europe. It sold 188,541 vehicles in August, down 2.1 percent from a year ago. VW had 19 percent of the market in the January-to-August period, compared with 18.5 percent in the first eight months of 2000.

Asian brands continued to suffer. The August declines at Mazda, Nissan and Mitsubishi were all in the 20 percent range, for example. Sales of Japanese vehicles were down 9.6 percent through August.

Sales in two of the five biggest European markets weakened in August. France fell 5.3 percent, and Italy dropped 2.4 percent.

In Germany, sales rose 2.3 percent, to 257,000. The German car association VDA considered that increase a good sign, in a market that was down sharply last year and was off 1.9 percent through August of this year.

VDA President Bernd Gottschalk said the August figures pointed to a long-term improvement in Europe's biggest car market.

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