MUNICH -- New-car registrations rose in January at the eight largest carmakers in Europe, according to data from ACEA, the European automakers association.
But automakers are not celebrating because they know the increases are the result of nearly finished scrapping incentive programs in key European markets as well as a comparison with terrible sales numbers in January 2009.
Volkswagen AG, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA, Renault SA, Fiat S.p.A. and Toyota Motor Corp. had double-digit percentage gains last month compared with January 2009, which is when the effects of the global economic slowdown cut deeply into Europe's new-car sales. Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and BMW AG reported single-digit increases last month.
Most industry watchers expect western Europe's new-car registrations to fall by at least a million units in 2010 because of the end of scrapping incentives. Those incentives artificially inflated sales by offering cash to customers who traded in old cars for newer models.
The incentives revived the European car market, which managed to fall just 1.6 percent to 14,481,545 sales in 2009 despite the global slump.
Italy was Europe's sales leader in January with 206,341 units, a 30 percent gain.
Germany was second with 181,189, a 4 percent decline from January 2009. Meanwhile France, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands reported double-digit percentage increases.