Survey: business climate shows signs of hope

Munich. The July Ifo business climate index for the German automotive industry is showing slight improvement. Some 11 percent of automobile manufacturers polled by the economic think tank rated the current business situation as "good", 79 percent said it was "satisfactory" while 10 percent thought the situation "bad".

Gernot Nerb, who heads the Ifo business poll, said: "The situation has better ratings in July than it had in June."

When asked about their expectations for the coming six months 13 percent thought the situation would improve, 85 percent believed it would remain the same and only 2 percent feared it might worsen. "For the near future manufacturers expect a slow improvement," Nerb said.

Bernd Gottschalk, president of the Automotive Industry Association (VDA), added: "I believe that in 2004 we will have a much more positive outlook in Germany again."

A survey by Automobilwoche had similar results. Nine out of 10 people questioned were confident.

Renault boss Jacques Rivoal said: "The number of orders we received at the beginning of the second half of 2003 is positive. "We expect to be selling 10,000 vehicles more than during the first half of 2003. This is also due to the new Megane models."

BMW boss Helmut Panke hopes to increase sales for all brands by the end of this year. Hartwig Hirtz, managing director at Chrysler Germany, announced that the number of orders received had increased significantly.

Peugeot, whose sales increased 18 percent in the first half of 2003, expects to maintain its momentum. Skoda Germany chief Dieter Sitz' goal is to reach more than 80,000 new registrations in 2003. Phoenix Chief Executive Director Konrad Ellegast said that the high number of new model launches made him optimistic.