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European car sales jump, VW strong, PSA and Opel less so


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European car sales jump, VW strong, PSA and Opel less so

European car sales got off to a positive start for the year, continuing 2016’s trend.

Sales jumped 10.2 percent year-on-year in January to 1.2 million vehicles, helped by extra selling days during the month in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association.

However the two carmakers currently in the headlines – PSA Peugeot Citroen and General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall – posted weaker European sales in January than any other major carmaker.

They are currently discussing GM Europe’s operations being bought by PSA though the deal is meeting opposition from German politicians and unions fearing job losses.

Charm offensive

GM’s chief executive Mary Barra has been in Germany on a charm offensive to win support saying in a message to workers that the tie-up would put the two companies “in a position to improve their standing in the fast-changing European market”.

PSA said its CEO Carlos Tavares will meet German labour and political leaders, possibly including Chancellor Angela Merkel

PSA and GM have declined to say what cuts they would make to jobs, plants, production capacity or research and development under the deal being discussed. Of GM Europe’s roughly 38,000 staff, about 19,000 are in Germany and 4,500 in Britain.

Britain weaker

Britain posted the lowest rate of growth in January among the seven largest EU markets. Sales were up 2.9 percent, compared with around 10 percent expansion each in Germany, Italy, France and Spain. (Spain 10.7 percent, France 10.6 percent, Germany 10.5 percent, Italy 10.1 percent).

The UK’s largely foreign-owned car industry has thrived in recent years, but the vote to leave the European Union has cast doubt on future growth there.

Winners and losers

Nearly a year and a half after its emissions scandal came to light, Volkswagen group, racked up 10 percent growth last month, as did Renault, according to the Association of European Carmakers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recorded a 15 percent rate of expansion while Ford came in at 9.5 percent.

PSA, including the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, rose 6.5 percent in January, compared with 5.3 percent for GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands.

In the high-margin segment, Germany’s leading luxury nameplates Mercedes-Benz and BMW posted 16 percent and 11 percent growth respectively, faring better than VW’s Audi brand at 3.1 percent.

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