German auto body sees moderately better 2011

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Germany's auto industry body on Thursday forecast 3.1 million new car registrations in 2011, a moderate rise from 2.9 million in 2010 and back to around the pre-recession level of 2008.

"Things are going to get better in 2011, albeit at a slow pace," German Auto Industry Federation (VDA) chairman Matthias Wissmann said. "Risks concerning the financial markets and raw materials have not gone away -- far from it."

"The German auto market is normalising again and is proving to be robust ... We are realistically optimistic."

In 2008 in Germany, home to giants BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler, there were 3.1 million new car registrations.

In 2009, with Europe's biggest economy hit by the worldwide economic downturn, the government boosted sales with a "cash-for-clunkers" scheme, with 3.8 million new registrations.

The popular scheme allowed buyers to trade in their old cars and get government money in return to put towards a new vehicle. Some five billion euros (6.6 billion dollars) in taxpayers' money were used up.

To escape sluggish markets in Europe and North America, German automakers have turned to emerging markets such as India and China.

Every fifth new car sold worldwide in 2010 went to a Chinese buyer, the VDA said, and one in five of those is a German car.

The global auto market is expected to have grown eight percent in 2010, with 60 million cars sold around the world, and the association expects further growth of around the same magnitude in 2011 to 64.5 million.

German car exports rose 23 percent in 2010 to 4.2 million units, and the VDA expects growth of around five percent in 2011 to 4.4 million, a new record. Production is forecast to rise five percent to 5.8 million units.

© 2010 AFP

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