Economy, Auto

European Car Sales Rise 6% in Jan.

European Car Sales Rise 6% in Jan.European Car Sales Rise 6% in Jan.

European car sales rose 6.3% to 1.09 million vehicles in January, industry data showed, even as Volkswagen Group saw registrations of VW-brand cars fall 4% in the wake of the automaker's emissions scandal.

VW rivals Ford and Opel/Vauxhall posted gains of 11.4% and 12.4%, respectively, as the diesel-emissions cheating scandal weighed on VW's European sales for a fifth consecutive month. Competitors appear to be targeting VW. Fiat dealers in Germany offered rebates averaging 14.4% off the sticker price, making the brand the top discounter in VW's home market, according to trade publication Autohaus PulsSchlag.

Ford was third with discounts of 13.7%. The industry-wide average was 12.1%, up 0.2% points from a year earlier.

VW brand’s sales last month dropped 8.8% in Germany and 14% in the UK while stagnating in Spain, where demand grew 12%, according to local industry figures.

Seat, another VW brand affected by the diesel scandal, posted a 17% plunge in Spain, the division’s home market.

VW brand's market share in the EU and EFTA region dropped to 11.7% last month from 13.0% a year earlier, according to data released by the industry association ACEA.

Sales at VW Group, which includes luxury brands Audi and Porsche as well as the mass-market Skoda marques, rose 1%. Europe-wide increases of 14% at Audi and 6% at Skoda offset declines of 8.8% of Seat and 5.5% of Porsche.

VW Group accounted for 24.3% of European car sales last month compared with 25.6% a year earlier.

Registrations at PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe's No. 2 automaker after VW, increased by 3.7%. No. 3 Renault saw registrations of its Renault and Dacia brands rise by 1%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' volume jumped 15%, led by a 33% gain in Jeep sales and a 14% rise in Fiat registrations.

Most Asian brands had a good month, except Nissan whose volume fell by 4.6%. Kia's registrations rose 13% while Hyundai brand sales gained 9.1%. Toyota and Lexus sales were up 2.2%.

Jaguar Land Rover led gains at premium brands with registrations rising 53%, boosted by a 160% gain in Jaguar's volume. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands had a combined gain of 9.4%. BMW and Mini's combined registrations were up 4.8 %. Volvo's volume jumped by 4.7%.