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ACEA 2003 figures show advance of Japanese and Asian brands

ACEA Western Europe new registrations for December 2003 totalled 969,787 units, representing a decrease of 1.8 % (- 1.9 % in the EU-15) with respect to December 2002. This drop was mainly due to the significant decrease experienced by three countries (including Italy), while all the other markets showed increases.

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)

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