Low-cost carmakers outperform faltering European recovery

[PARIS] Registrations in Europe's fragile auto recovery rose 1.2 per cent last month, according to industry data published on Tuesday, with budget brands beating the market as nervous consumers kept a tight lid on spending.

Sales advanced to 989,457 cars in November, the Association of European Carmakers said, for a 15th consecutive monthly gain and a 5.5 per cent advance over the first 11 months.

Renault's no-frills Dacia brand posted an 11 per cent increase, thanks to models such as the Duster SUV, helping the group's deliveries to rise 3.9 per cent.

European leader Volkswagen's sales rose 2.5 per cent after a similar 10 per cent boost from Seat, its budget Spanish marque, lifting the group market share to 26.7 per cent.

A Spanish market rebound and strong UK car sales are helping to offset faltering demand in Germany and a renewed downturn in France - where high unemployment and weak consumer confidence are keeping customers out of dealerships.

European sales of competitively priced Hyundais rose 5.7 per cent, while mid-market rivals struggled - with Ford sagging 5.5 per cent, General Motors' Opel down 12 per cent and PSA Peugeot Citroen 2.9 per cent lower.

But there were some bright spots. Fiat Chrysler got its sole break from buoyant sales of Jeep's new Renegade compact SUV as the brand expands in Europe, with deliveries up a healthy 57 per cent to almost 35,000 vehicles so far this year.

Further still from the low-cost end of the market, premium brands also continued to defy the economic gloom.

BMW sales rose 9.4 per cent and Daimler advanced 4.8 per cent, with Mercedes deliveries surging almost twice as much. Audi - another VW division - rose 3.7 per cent, while Geely-owned Volvo Car posted an 8.7 per cent gain.


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