MUNICH -- New-car sales may be declining in western Europe, but in central Europe volume rose sharply through the first three quarters.
Sales through the first nine months of 2003 in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic rose an estimated 13.3 percent to 866,000 passenger vehicles from 764,000 a year earlier, JATO Dynamics estimates.
The big winners among the major players during the first three quarters were Toyota and Ford groups. Toyota group soared 45.6 percent to 51,000 units on strong performances by the Toyota brand and the smaller Lexus and Daihatsu marques.
Ford group jumped 37.7 percent overall despite sales declines by Premier Automotive Group brands Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. The Ford brand led the entire group with a sparkling 47.2 percent surge thanks largely to the new Fiesta and Fusion models.
PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, General Motors, Suzuki and Nissan all posted gains greater than the industry average.
Fiat, Renault and the Volkswagen group modestly increased volume through three quarters, but at a slower pace than the booming region. Market leader Volkswagen brand not only lost market share but also volume, which was down 1,000 units or 1.8 percent. Customers apparently are waiting for the new Golf to arrive.
GM Daewoo was flat at 40,000 units.
Among smaller players, Porsche more than doubled sales during the period to 310 units as the new Cayenne sport-utility reached the market. Mazda sales jumped 54.9 percent to 8,500 units and Hyundai group sales were up 49.8 percent to 16,000 units.
The buoyant marketplace helped nearly all the players. The only significant exceptions were Mitsubishi, off 3.2 percent to 5,000 sales, and Russia's Lada, down almost 20 percent to 1,800 units.