Long-beleaguered Fiat Group might finally be seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Fiat's European sales jumped 17.9 percent in January compared with January 2005. The Fiat brand was up 23.2 percent.
"With Fiat you've got to say these figures are a positive -- more than just a tentative sign of a product-led recovery," says Nigel Griffiths, an analyst with Global Insight in London. "The only question is how sustainable that recovery will be."
In another major reversal, Volkswagen AG sales rose 19.4 percent in January. The VW brand led the way with a 25.5 percent increase, to 132,457 units for the month. A year ago VW was still in the doldrums.
"Figures for the entire VW group were very impressive in percentage terms," says Griffiths. "VW had a really bomb-out month the previous January."
Redesigned products paced the increases at Fiat and VW, Griffiths says. The Punto led the Fiat charge, and the Passat set the pace for VW.
The overall European market posted sales of 1.26 million in January, up 2.6 percent from January 2005.