National figures for the month point to a progressive recovery in most countries, says the ACEA: 11 out of 15 EU markets posted increases, ranging from +0.6 % in France to +44.7 % in Belgium. In contrast, only three countries showed decreases, but these were fairly significant ones: Italy (-27.5 %), the Netherlands (-43.7 %) and Ireland (-52.7 %). Italy's drop is partly explained by the comparison with a very strong month in December 2002 (+ 51.4%), when the Italian scrappage incentive scheme was coming to an end.
Cumulative year-end figures saw the 2003 market 2003 down 1.3 % on 2002 (-1.1 % in the EU-15). Six countries showed increases, ranging from +0.5 % in Luxembourg to +26 % in Finland.
2003 saw Japanese and Korean car brands gaining share impressively at the expense of European volume manufacturers, with volume growth of 9.0% and 19.5% respectively. The revived Mazda's sales were up 30.4%, while the Korean brands took a combined year-end market share of 3.3%.
Market leader VW Group's sales were down 2.5%, bringing its share down from 18.4% to 18.2%; PSA's sales were down 2.7%, though Citroen subsidiary increased its share of group volume with sales up by 2.6%. Ford and all its PAG brands' sales were down, collectively by 4.4%, achieving a combined share of 11%, neck and neck with GM's group share which stood at 9.8% after Opel/Vauxhall/Saab volumes decreased by 2.8%. Fiat group brands' sales were all down, by a combined 10.2% at the year-end, with a year-end share of 7.4%. DaimlerChrysler sales were down 2.7%, with a share of 6.5%.
MINI helped BMW increase group sales volume by 1.4% with year-on-year sales growth of 8%, leaving the group with a European share of 4.4%. MG Rover's sales were down 2.7% with its share unchanged at 1%. (Full details of December and full-year figures at www.acea.be)