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Old 08-07-2002, 09:42   #1 (permalink)
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British carmakers see record 2002 sales as July's numbers grow

August 7, 2002

BY JAMES REGAN BLOOMBERG

LONDON, UK: James Regan writing for Bloomberg news reported that new car sales in Britain will probably reach a record in 2002 after rising 13 percent in July as price cuts, lower interest rates and more models attracted buyers, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

Sales measured by registrations rose to 195,637 cars in July from 173,038 in the year-earlier month, prompting the society to raise its full-year forecast for new car sales to 2.51 million. Sales rose 7 percent to 1.54 million vehicles in the first seven months of 2002, the group said in an e-mailed statement.

Britain is the only major European car market that has grown this year after automakers reduced prices under government pressure and the Bank of England cut interest rates to a 38-year low, making loans cheaper. Sales in Italy, France and Spain fell in July, the countries' carmakers or governments have reported.

The July figures show "strong demand fueled by lower prices, low interest rates and an ever-increasing base of new models coming onto the market," said society Chief Executive Christopher Macgowan in the statement.

"Sales will start to cool down later this year, but not by enough to stop 2002 being another bumper year," he said.

Britain's car market passed Italy and France last year to become second-largest after Germany, with a record 2.46 million new-car sales. The society had forecast last month that Britain's 2002 sales would total 2.4 million vehicles.

Ford Motor Co.'s Focus car was Britain's biggest seller in July for the 27th straight month, the society said. Total Ford sales last month increased 6.1 percent from July 2001 to 31,538 vehicles.

PSA Peugeot Citroen sales rose 10 percent. Citroen-brand registrations were 11 percent higher at 10,271 vehicles, while Peugeot sales gained 9.8 percent to 16,319.

Sales of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG cars surged 41 percent to 5,331 in July. Fiat SpA sales increased 5 percent to 7,170 vehicles.

General Motors Corp.'s Vauxhall brand, the second-largest seller in Britain, sold 23,827 new cars, an increase of 18 percent. Renault SA sales jumped 11 percent to 15,556 vehicles.

Ford's Fiesta overtook Vauxhall's Corsa as the second-biggest selling model last month, with 7,796 Fiestas sold compared with 7,597 Corsas.

Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest automaker, sold 13,606 cars in the U.K. last month, 0.5 percent fewer than in July 2001.

Sales to private customers rose the most, increasing 14 percent and providing 48 percent of the British total. Sales last month to fleet owners increased 12.5 percent and contributed 44 percent of the total.

Commercial-vehicle registrations also rose in July, adding 11.7 percent to 25,392 units. Seven-month commercial-vehicle sales rose 3.6 percent to 184,369, according to the society.

Western European car sales in the first half of this year declined 4.5 percent, the European carmakers association said last month.
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