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by Tim Beissmann

Government incentives and scrappage schemes have made for an interesting sales month for May across Europe and Asia.

Many government intervention programs installed as post-GFC stimulus measures have recently run out or are about to run out, and different markets are moving ahead in different ways.

In Spain, consumers are buying up before subsidies of up to 2000 euros ($2940) dry up at the end of June. New car sales hit 102,873 in May, up 44.6 percent over the same month last year.

France, in the middle of phasing out its incentive scheme, endured its first decline since April 2009 as registrations dropped 11.5 percent to 186,337.

French vehicle buyers are entitled to a 700 euro ($1030) subsidy until the end of the month before it falls to 500 euros ($735) from July 1.

France’s carmakers’ association, the CCFA, said the April drop-off came as no surprise.

“We expected this drop compared with the very high levels of last year. Now we’re falling back to average levels the market saw before scrapping incentives,” a spokesperson said.

Despite this, passenger car sales are up 7.2 percent over the first five months in France.

The local French brands were up and down in May. Dacia dragged Renault Group upwards while PSA Peugeot Citroen fell 13.1 percent (Citroen -13.9 percent and Peugeot -12.3 percent).

“The impact of support is running out … and it is small, entry-level vehicles which are feeling it most,” said the CCFA.

Italy’s current financial situation is reflecting on its new vehicle sales, and the problems of the weakening market have been compounded by the lack of incentives which ended last year.

Sales for May dropped 13.8 percent compared with 2009, and Fiat’s market share – comprising mostly small, efficient cars that carried the highest tax concessions – slid below 30 percent for the first time in more than five years.

Growth in Asia was strong throughout May as global manufacturers continue to focus on it as the fastest growing market.

Overall sales in Japan rose 22 percent, while growth in China slowed to 25 percent in May from April’s 34 percent.

Despite this, 885,800 vehicles were sold in China for the month as the nation remains on track to purchase more than 16 million vehicles for 2010. Predictions suggest the annual figure could potentially rise to 30 million or more in the future.

(with Reuters, Bloomberg)




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