FRANKFURT -- New car registrations in Germany jumped an unadjusted 11 percent in November from a year earlier to about 284,000 units, continuing October's rebound, the auto association VDA said on Monday.
That brought registrations so far in 2004 to 2.98 million units, 1 percent below the year-ago level, the German industry group said, adding that November 2004 had benefited from one more selling day than November 2003.
While a rather weak month last year provided a more favorable basis for comparison, analysts said the recent launch of models such as the new BMW 1-Series and the revamped Mercedes A-Class also helped push sales.
"Considering the development of consumer sentiment, brisk demand can only stem from the introduction of new models and aggressive incentives, which by and large are shared by all producers," Heino Ruland, head of research and sales at Frankfurt brokerage Steubing, told clients in a note.
A VDA spokesman declined to comment on the reasons behind the sharp rise in registrations, particularly among German brands, which enjoyed an unadjusted gain of 13 percent last month.
INCENTIVES NEAR U.S. LEVELS
Industry analysts expect sales to rise in December as well, but it is uncertain whether the end-year spurt in Europe's largest car market will be enough to bring full-year sales up to the 2003 level of 3.24 million units.
If not, 2004 would be the fifth consecutive year of falling car sales, despite increasingly generous and profit-eroding incentives designed to lure reluctant customers into showrooms.
VDA has forecast stagnant registration numbers in 2004 overall.
It said German carmakers' exports fell 11 percent in November to 327,200 units, while output dropped 8 percent to 471,200.
In the first 11 months, exports edged up 2 percent to 3.4 million and production gained 2 percent to 4.8 million.
"The registration figures for Germany were very positive and fall in line with other strong growth rates in Europe, such as France, Belgium and Spain," said Merck Finck analyst Robert Heberger.
Car registrations in Britain also rose 1.8 percent in November, snapping a seven-month run of falling volumes, the Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers said.
Heberger would not rule out that higher incentives may be driving the better overall performance.
"While there is no hard statistical data available as in the U.S., my feeling is that Europe is well on its way to reaching incentive levels that come close to those in America," Heberger said.