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Old 05-28-2003, 05:43   #1 (permalink)
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Mazda6 sizzles in Europe, helps drive sales turnaround

May 28, 2003
Mazda6 sizzles in Europe, helps drive sales turnaround

By GEOFF BARTON | Automotive News

LONDON - The hottest-selling car in Europe? It might just be the Mazda6, which is driving a turnaround for Ford's Japanese brand.

Mazda sold 34,869 units of the upper-medium model in the first four months of 2003. The Mazda6 went on sale almost a year ago.

Its success helped boost Mazda sales by more than 40 percent in the January-to-April period, to 70,184 units. Mazda sales were up nearly 57 percent in April alone, to 18,276 units.

Mazda's growth is the biggest reason Japanese carmakers captured 12.2 percent of the western European market in the first four months of the year, up from 11.1 percent in the year-ago period. Still, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Lexus, and Suzuki all grew sales last month.



Western Europe's new-car sales were 1,219,605 units in April, down 6.5 percent. ACEA, the European automakers' association, blamed the Iraq war and slow economies. Sales for the year are off 3.4 percent.


Volkswagen-brand sales fell by 15.4 percent in April, to 120,713 units. "The month-to-month trend is deteriorating," says Juergen Pieper, auto analyst at Metzler Bank in Frankfurt. "I would expect that pattern to continue at least until they bring out the new Golf in the autumn."


Kia's sales surged by nearly 70 percent in April, to 10,780 units, outselling Mitsubishi, Saab and Lancia. At 0.9 percent, the Korean brand had the same market share as Britain's MG Rover.

Reuters contributed to this report
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