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Country-by-country guide to Europe's auto trade

Country-by-country guide to Europe's auto trade

Here is a county-by-country guide to how Europe's auto industry is taking shape:
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GERMANY
German carmakers Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, and Porsche have had a very strong year. This is in a large part due to export earnings from China and other emerging markets along with a tentative rebound in the US _ a longtime pillar for the luxury carmakers.
Focusing on the more profitable and recession-resistant luxury end of the market has boosted the auto companies' results. Strong sales of its luxury brand Mercedes in the U.S. and China helped Daimler post a 57 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits of (EURO)1.78 billion ($2.4 billion), and the company hauled in a record (EURO)6.03 billion in net profit for all of 2011. Mercedes sales rose 42 percent in China and 44 percent in the U.S. during the year.
Volkswagen, which has both mass-market brands and the luxury marque Audi, sold 14 percent more vehicles last year compared with 2010, at 8.27 million. That put it ahead of Japan's Toyota, whose supply lines were disrupted by the earthquake in March.
German carmakers, have also benefited from the eurozone debt crisis. As the region's single currency, the euro, has weakened against the U.S. dollar, it has become cheaper to export, thereby keeping cars produced in Germany at a more competitive price. However, the crisis has proved a double-edged sword, hurting consumer demand at home in Europe.
One exception to the German rule is Adam Opel GmbH, the German-based subsidiary of General Motors, which has struggled with weak pricing and cutthroat competition in Europe's brutally competitive small-car market. GM Europe lost around $700 million.
The alliance with France's Peugeot PSA is expected to help reach economies of scale on purchasing.
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FRANCE
French car sales fell 2.1 percent last year, ending 2011 with a nearly 18 percent drop in December.
In all, 2.2 million cars were sold in France last year, with French car makers' total falling 7 percent to 1.24 million. Foreign car makers saw their sales in France rise 4.9 percent to nearly 966,000.
Carmakers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen are suffering _ with Renault's earnings falling by about a third and PSA Peugeot Citroen posting a loss on its carmaking business _ and forecasting further pain in their important European market in 2012.
To fight back, the carmakers have looked to internationalize production and sales, with an increasing share of both coming from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Earlier this month, Renault opened a new assembly line in Morocco, despite criticism at home about sending French jobs abroad. Renault invested around (EURO)1 billion in the factory that will turn out up to 400,000 vehicles a year from 2013.
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ITALY
The Italian market has been in steady decline since 2009, shrinking from 2.15 million vehicles sold to 1.748 million last year. It is expected to decline another 2.7 percent this year to 1.7 million.
Fiat, which owns a 58.5 percent share of Chrysler, reported strong 2011 earnings thanks to its business in the U.S. However this has cast doubt on its expansion plans in Europe due the devastating impact of the debt crisis on the car market.
Fiat Group Autos, which comprises the Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands, saw annual vehicle shipments slip 2.4 percent to 2 million, due largely to declining European sales, whereas Chrysler sales jumped 22 percent.
Fiat has been working to make plants more efficient, demanding new work rules at its Italian plants and attempting to cut excess capacity, which resulted in the closure last year of a plant in Sicily.
Despite those efforts, the plants in Italy were still running at 50 percent capacity, compared with 92 percent in North America and 118 percent in Poland and Turkey.
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BRITAIN
Once the home of brands such as Rover and MG, the U.K. no longer has any homegrown mass market carmakers. Nonetheless the British auto industry _ including small, specialist carmakers but prevalently major foreign brands producing in the U.K. _ posted a 5.8 percent increase in production last year. Demand from overseas accounted for all the growth and 84 percent of production overall, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Auto sales in the U.K., measured as new registrations, however declined by 4.4 percent to 1.94 million, the lowest in the country since 1994.
Nissan's U.K operations had the best year with 480,485 cars produced, an increase of 13.5 percent. Opel's Vauxhall marque was second with 137,971 vehicles, an increase of 34 percent. Toyota was down 6.5 percent to 138,146 and Honda plunged 30 percent lower to 97,459.
Luxury cars were a small bright part of the picture.
Bentley, owned by Volkswagen, reported a 37 percent increase in sales to 7,003. The company's sales in China doubled to 1,839 but a 32 percent tinkers in the United States preserved its position is Bentley's biggest market with 2,021 units.
Sales by Rolls-Royce, owned by BMW, rose 31 percent to 3,538 units, led by a 47 percent gain in the Asia-Pacific.
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SPAIN
Like the U.K., Spain does not have a homegrown mass producer of autos. Ten foreign carmakers have plants in Spain, the most important being Renault, Seat, Ford and Opel. The industry employs 64,000 people and has generates some (EURO)34 billion.
Vehicle production in Spain was down 1.4 percent in 2011 to 2.5 million, way below the sector's 3 million capacity. However, exports _ which make up 90 percent of production_ were up 2 percent. This was thanks to exports to Germany, which takes in three quarters of the vehicles produced in Spain. Sales to all other EU countries were down.
Of the 2.5 million produced, 1.9 million were passenger cars.
Domestic car sales were down 18 percent in 2011 to 808,000, the lowest figure since 1993. Manufacturers' and dealers associations predict the sector will be lucky to reach the 800,000 figure in 2012.
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David McHugh in Frankfurt, Greg Keller in Paris, Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Bob Barr in London contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-30 22:54 GMT+08:00