WARSAW, Poland -- Poland's new-car sales jumped 19 percent year-on-year in January, continuing a rebound from the second half of last year and fueling hopes that the country's economic revival is under way.
Samar, an agency monitoring the private car market, said in its monthly report Tuesday that Poles bought 28,201 new passenger cars last month, against 23,637 in January 2002, with the increase due to discounts to shift last year's models and falling credit rates.
Cheaper car loans and government measures to stem inflows of secondhand cars imported from the European Union have helped to increase domestic car sales since July 2002. But for the full year new-car sales dipped 6 percent to 308,158 units.
"Because of discount offers, January figures have never been credible and it is hard to predict what will happen in the following months," Samar head Wojciech Drzewiecki said.
A prime gauge of consumer confidence, new-car sales had suffered in recent years due to Poland's economic slowdown, high unemployment rate and expensive consumer loans.
Italy's Fiat, which produces several of its compact models in Poland, clung to its lead with a market share of around 20 percent in January as the troubled carmaker's sales grew to 5,700 units, up nearly 10 percent from last year.
Volkswagen's Czech unit Skoda was second with a 12 percent market share, or 3,446 units. VW itself sold 1,222 cars for a 4 percent market share.
The third position belonged to France's Renault, whose market share topped 10 percent, with 3,000 units sold.