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French new car sales crash in November

PARIS, Dec 1 (AFP) – The French new car market weakened further in November and the full year should see sales of new cars below two million units for the first time since 1998, industry projections showed Monday.

Sales of new cars in France fell 9.4 percent in November compared with the same month last year, breaking what had been seen as a somewhat healthier trend in September and October, the French automobile manufacturers’ committee said Monday.

The committee said 149,285 new cars had been registered last month, with French models particularly hard hit. Their market share dropped 3.4 percentage points from November 2002 to 57.7 percent.

“The trend toward more balanced results seen in the months of September and October was not confirmed, demonstrating the irregularity of the market that has been noted for several months,” the committee said in a statement.

The French auto market has weakened almost without interruption since the start of the year, with manufacturers trying to stem the fall through promotions.

Registrations of new cars declined 6.9 percent in the first 11 months of the year from the same period of 2002.

“For the whole of 2003, the market should be close to two million units,” predicted CCFA head Manuel Gomez at a press conference.Looking ahead to next year, he said: “I can only hope that the market will be better in 2004.”

He said France had been the only major European auto market to decline this year, noting that markets were stable in Germany and Britain while Italy and Spain showed improvement.

In November, new Renault registrations fell 10.4 percent from the same month last year, with market share shedding 0.3 percentage points to 27.6 percent.

Peugeot’s registrations dropped 18 percent, with both the Peugeot and Citroen brands together posting 18 percent year-on-year declines. Peugeot’s total market share fell 3.2 percentage points to 30 percent.

Among foreign makers, DaimlerChrysler registrations, including the Mercedes, Chrysler and Smart brands, fell 7.1 percent, Ford 13.9 percent and Volkswagen 12.4 percent.

However, registrations of BMWs were stable thanks to the popularity of its Mini brand. Registrations of General Motors’ Opel and Saab brands increased 4.2 percent and Fiat jumped 16.1 percent.

Registrations of Japanese brands in particular improved sharply, with Nissan jumping 32.9 percent and Toyota 17.6 percent.


                                                                Subject: French news