Buoyed by increased Audi sales, Volkswagen AG was the only major automaker to post higher year-over-year European sales in September.
Volkswagen remained Europe's top automaker by volume, selling 263,435 units in the month, up 1.4 percent from September 2007.
An 18.5 percent spurt by Audi to 63,796 units more than accounted for the rise, although Skoda brand sales also rose. Sales for the Volkswagen brand dipped 1.4 percent, although — at 135,313 units — it remained the best-selling brand for the month.
Volkswagen's increase was a rare bit of September sunshine, as total European sales declined 8.2 percent to 1,304,583 units.
For the first nine months, European sales totaled 11,710,521, down 4.4 percent. Germany remains by far the largest market and, at 2,371,473 units, is up 1.3 percent for the year.
Other volume leaders lost sales in September. Ford Motor Co. fell 11.4 percent and General Motors dropped 18.1 percent.
Fiat and Renault recorded mild declines, but BMW Group, Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG, Nissan Motor Co., Hyundai and Honda Motor Co. had steeper sales drops.
Likewise, among the five largest markets, only France had an increase in sales. Sales slid in Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. In Spain, sales tanked 32.2 percent.
But growth continued in most eastern European markets. The largest ones rose: Poland gained 1.8 percent and Romania 17.4 percent. The Czech Republic was up 32.2 percent, but on a small base: September sales totaled only 12,134 units.