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German car exports rise but domestic sales slip

German car exports rise but domestic sales slip

German car exports were up by more than half on the year in March amid a global economic thaw, but new registrations at home were down by a quarter, industry groups said Tuesday.
Germany exported 419,400 cars last month, 51 percent more than in March 2009, the VDA group said. Exports for the first quarter were up 47 percent to nearly 1.05 million.
"Orders from abroad have been on a growth course since August already," VDA head Matthias Wissmann said. "In March alone, German producers were able to book nearly 28 percent move orders from abroad."
Strong foreign demand has helped propel production upward. In March, production climbed 27 percent on the year to 555,300; for the first quarter, it was up 32 percent at 1.38 million.
The picture was less rosy on the domestic market in Germany, where sales have been slipping over recent months after a popular government car-scrapping program expired.
Some 295,000 new cars were registered last month in the country, according to VDA and the VDIK group, which represents car importers. That was a decline of about 27 percent on the year.
In the first quarter, some 670,000 new cars were registered in Germany, which has Europe's biggest economy _ a 23 percent slide.
The government-backed "cash-for-clunkers" program in Germany was launched in 2009's first quarter and expired in September. It boosted sales strongly but they have been declining in recent months.
VDIK said that, compared with 2008 _ when the bonus didn't affect sales _ the market declined by only 9 percent in the first quarter.
"The mood in the auto industry is brightening appreciably," VDA's Wissmann said. "We won't reach the pre-crisis level again in 2010, but we expect a good export year."
He said the decline in domestic sales was in line with expectations.