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Europe proves a tonic for Jaguar

Jaguar bucked a slight downward trend to increase sales of its luxury saloons and sports cars in western Europe by 3.8% in September to 7,968 units compared with 7,675 in the same month last year.

Its performance for the first nine months of the year was even better - up by 28.2% to 47,762 from 37,268.

The figures come on top of a record September sales performance in the UK and help offset disappointing figures from the US. The company recently announced it was ending car production at the Browns Lane, Coventry, plant.

Land Rover, also in Ford's Premier Automotive Group, had a less successful month on the Continent.

Sales dipped by 3.8%to 8,410 compared with 9,887 in September 2003. Land Rover has been instructed to improve efficiency and quality levels by its parent.

Year on year sales of Land Rovers, however, are running only 0.5 per cent shy at 55,509 versus 56,810.

September proved to be another bad month for MG Rover whose sales were down by 30.7% from 20,697 to 14,337.

So far this year MGR's European sales are 15.8% down at 92,290 compared with 109,666.

BMW's Mini, built at Oxford, gained 7.1% in September (14,984 v 13,995) and is 3.8% up year on year at 95,284 compared with 91,752.

ACEA, the European carmakers' group, said new car registrations fell by 0.6% to 1.358 million from 1,333 million in September as nervous consumers kept their money in the bank.

Registrations for BMW grew 18.7% amid a flood of new models, while Ford gained 5.6% and GM was 1.2%.

The PSA group, which has an operation at Ryton, near Coventry, had a poor September, seeing registrations drop by 8.3%. The VAG Group (which includes VW, Skoda, Audi and Seat) saw its sales fall overall by 2%.

The biggest gains last month were made by Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai, up by 62.2% and 29.4% respectively.

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