Paced by an 8.2 percent increase in long-stagnant Germany in June, European car sales grew 4.5 percent for the month compared with the same period in 2004.
Sales in Germany are growing, partly because of incentives. The arrival of important new products, including the BMW 3 series and Volkswagen Passat, also is helping.
Propelled by the new 3 series, the BMW Group led European carmakers in growth with a sales increase of 21.8 percent in June. BMW is up 16.1 percent for the first half of the year. The BMW brand is on the verge of passing archrival Mercedes-Benz. For the first half of 2005, Mercedes still leads in market share 4.3 percent to BMW's 4.2 percent.
Volkswagen AG, with the help of a new-model offensive, including the Passat, shot up 8.1 percent in June. Audi is the hottest brand in the VW stable, up 18.2 percent for the month and 13.4 percent for the first half of the year.
As usual, Asian carmakers have been Europe's biggest gainers with Kia leading the charge. Kia sales grew 51.6 percent for the month and are up 63.5 percent for the first six months. Toyota and Lexus gained 16.2 percent for the month. Honda paced all Japanese carmakers with an increase of 19.1 percent for the month. Mazda, down 7.1 percent in June, was the lone loser among the Japanese brands.
Europe's most dramatic fall has been that of the defunct MG Rover Group. Dealers are still selling a few remaining cars, but sales plummeted 85.0 percent in June to 1,514 units and 48.2 percent for the first half of the year.