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VW loses European market share to Fiat, GM in wake of scandal

VW loses European market share to Fiat, GM in wake of scandalVolkswagen AGís diesel-emissions cheating scandal weighed on the German carmakerís European market share for a fifth consecutive month as deliveries dropped in its home country and the U.K.

Registrations in the region by VWís namesake brand fell 4 percent to less than 128,350 vehicles in January, counter to a 6.3 percent increase in industrywide sales to 1.09 million autos, the European Automobile Manufacturersí Association said in a statement Tuesday. The Volkswagen group, including the Audi and Porsche luxury marques as well as the Skoda and Seat divisions, accounted for 24.3 percent of European car sales last month compared with 25.6 percent a year earlier.

The German auto manufacturer, Europeís biggest, is struggling to overcome the crisis sparked by its admission in September that it rigged a line of diesel engines to meet emissions standards only during official tests. Competitors picking up more European buyers in January included Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which is benefiting from the Jeep divisionís Renegade sport utility vehicle; General Motors Co.ís Opel unit; and Ford Motor Co., which said Friday that deliveries of its EcoSport and Kuga SUVs propelled demand.

Volkswagen began recalls in January to fix vehicles affected by the rigged emissions systems in Europe, where authorities have approved the repairs. The lack of an accord with U.S. regulators prompted the company in early February to delay its annual shareholders meeting because it couldnít estimate costs for its 2015 earnings report. About 11 million autos worldwide are involved, including 8.5 million in Europe.

German discounts
January marked the 29th month in a row of growth in industrywide European car sales, which are still recovering from a two-decade low reached in 2013. Among the five biggest markets, gains were greatest in Spain and Italy. The ACEA compiles figures from 27 of the 28 European Union countries plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Fiat Chryslerís European sales jumped 15 percent last month, Opelís rose 12 percent and Fordís gained 11 percent. Group sales at Volkswagen edged up 1 percent in the region because of a 14 percent surge at Audi and a 6 percent gain at Skoda. European registrations by BMW AGís namesake brand, the worldís biggest luxury-car maker, increased 5.8 percent, while second-ranked Mercedes-Benz sold 9.8 percent more autos.

Competitors appear to be targeting Volkswagen. Fiat dealers in Germany offered rebates averaging 14.4 percent off the sticker price, making the brand the top discounter in Volkswagenís home market, according to trade publication Autohaus PulsSchlag. Ford was third with discounts of 13.7 percent. The industrywide average was 12.1 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from a year earlier.

The VW brandís sales last month dropped 8.8 percent in Germany and 14 percent in the U.K. while stagnating in Spain, where demand grew 12 percent, according to local industry figures. Seat, another Volkswagen division affected by the diesel scandal, posted a 17 percent plunge in Spain, the divisionís home market.

Source: Bloomberg
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