WRAPUP 3-Japan, Europe November car sales fall

* France Nov car sales fall 10.8 pct, Spain down 25.5 pct

* Italy Nov car sales fall 21.13 pct, Belgium up 15.4 pct

* Japan Nov car sales fall 30.7 pct, excluding minivehicles

* Analysts see double-digit Nov U.S growth [ID:nN29216773]

(Adds Italy, Belgium data)

By Chang-Ran Kim and Helen Massy-Beresford

TOKYO/PARIS, Dec 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Japanese car sales slumped
for the third straight month as the euro zone crisis threatened
sales, while economic woes and the end of scrappage schemes
threatened a bleak start to 2011 for Europe’s car markets.

In Europe, while austerity measures and economic concerns
will likely hit spending power and consumer confidence in the
coming months, the end of scrapping incentives had a more
immediate impact on November automobile sales.

Italian car sales fell 21.13 percent year-on-year in
November, while in Belgium, which never had a scrapping scheme,
car sales rose 15.4 percent. [ID:nWEA5439]

Thinktank Promotor earlier said Italian car sales were
unlikely to reach pre-crisis levels until 2014. [ID:nLDE6B01MC]

Foreign carmakers association UNRAE said in a statement that
orders reached 160,000 in November, more than 20 percent down
from a year earlier.

Sales got a boost late last year as drivers flocked to
showrooms before scrapping bonuses ran out, and this comparison
effect exacerbated difficult market conditions, UNRAE said.

UNRAE predicted full-year sales of 1.95 million units,
compared with 2.16 million in 2009. “For next year there are no
signs of a clear reversal in the trend,” it said.

In Spain, where bonuses to boost new car sales ran out at
the start of July, coinciding with an increase in value-added
tax, car sales tumbled 25.5 percent year-on-year in November,
Spanish carmakers’ association ANFAC said. [ID:nMDT009544]

“Getting consumer confidence back, reducing the unemployment
rate and a return to a more normal credit situation, are
fundamental factors to returning the Spanish market to levels
more in line with the economic development of the country,”
ANFAC said in a statement.

Industry association CCFA said French car sales for November
dropped 10.8 percent, less than expected.

A 500 euro scrapping scheme, half the original bonus
offered, is still in place in France, while carmakers including
domestic rivals PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA: ) and Renault
(RENA.PA: ) are proposing generous money-back offers to drivers.

The imminent end of the scheme helped car sales post a
limited fall against a strong November 2009. Last November, just
before the scrapping scheme was cut from its initial 1,000
euros, sales surged 48.4 percent from a weak November 2008.

“Drivers are saying to themselves, ‘At the end of December
it’s finished; we have to hurry to order a new car’,” said
Flavien Neuvy, head of the automobile industry research
department at French consumer credit organisation Cetelem.

A CCFA spokesman added: “We have already passed the 2
million vehicle marker in 11 months, so we could finish the year
with 2.2 million registrations.”

In the first 11 months 2,023,410 passenger cars were
registered, a 2.4 percent dip on the same period of 2009.

Job fears are the main economic factor that will affect car
sales in the coming months, said Neuvy.

“If the employment market picks up a little, that will
return some confidence to consumers,” Neuvy said. French
third-quarter unemployment data will be released on Thursday.

EURO ZONE WOES

The euro zone’s troubles add to the woes of Japanese
automakers, which are in for a sharp, long drop in domestic
vehicle sales after the government’s subsidies on some
fuel-efficient vehicles ended in September.

Excluding 660cc minivehicles, sales in Japan sank 30.7
percent to 203,246 units last month, marking the biggest fall on
record for November, despite one more selling day in the month
than in 2009. Top-ranked Toyota Motor’s (7203.T: ) sales fell 35
percent, while Honda Motor’s (7267.T: ) dropped 38 percent.

“There’s no sense that sales have hit a bottom,” said
Michiro Saito, general manager at the Japan Automobile Dealers
Association.

Including minivehicles, which get preferential tax treatment
and are compiled separately, vehicle sales in Japan dropped 26
percent in November.

In India, top car maker Maruti Suzuki (MRTI.BO: ) reported a
28 percent rise in November sales, but exports fell 12 percent,
with most of those cars bound for Europe.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For table of Japan non-mini sales [ID:nTOE6B0044]

For table of Japan overall vehicle sales [ID:nTIY1NE620]

For table of Maruti Suzuki sales [ID:nBMA009006]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Hyundai Motor (005380.KS: ), South Korea’s biggest automaker,
fared better but also reported a 13 percent fall in its domestic
market, partly due to difficult comparisons from a year ago.

Growing concerns over the European debt crisis may hit
overseas sales in the next few months, but analysts said Korean
automakers were set to outperform the market thanks to new
models, competitive compact cars and a weak local currency.

One worry is the strike, now in its third week, at Hyundai’s
biggest local production base. [ID:nTOE6B005Z]

Overall sales at India’s Maruti Suzuki, 54.2 percent owned
by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T: ), rose strongly, and it is
aiming to tap markets outside Europe.

“The euro zone crisis could affect sales of Maruti Suzuki,
which has some exposure to that market, and it is now trying to
sell to non-European countries,” said Umesh Karne, a research
analyst at Brics Securities in Mumbai.
($1=1155.7 Won)
(Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Bharghavi
Nagaraju in Bangalore, Tanmaya Nanda in Mumbai, Carlos Ruano and
Nigel Davies in Madrid, Gilles Guillaume in Paris, Gianni
Montani in Turin and Nigel Tutt in Milan; Editing by Muralikumar
Anantharaman and Will Waterman)

WRAPUP 3-Japan, Europe November car sales fall