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Fiat tumbles as Europe crumbles

Fiat Group European deliveries fell 17.9% in December, finishing the year down 15.8% to 798,542 units as the European market continued to shrink.

According to numbers released by ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, overall European Union (counting the nations in the EU and the countries covered by the European Free Trade Agreement) new car registrations dropped 16.3% in December and total calendar year 2012 registrations were off 8.2% with the lowest volume seen since 1995. Sales in the European Union have been falling steadily for more than a year.

As bad as the situation was across the EU, it was worse in Italy, Fiat’s most important European market. Registrations in Italy plunged 22.5% in December, the second-worst drop, after Spain, among the major European markets. For the year, 1,402,089, 19.9% fewer than at the end of 2011 and the largest shortfall of the major markets.

Fiat Group, which includes Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia/Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Maserati and Ferrari, gave up 0.6 points of market share in 2012, falling to seventh among the automakers selling in the European Union. In 2011, it was sixth, a place now occupied by BMW Group.

While Fiat’s December results weren’t pretty, the Italian automaker outperformed a number of its rivals. PSA Peugeot, Renault, General Motors, Ford and Toyota all reported larger percentage declines than Fiat. Ford sales fell off a cliff, down 27.3%, followed by a 27.0% shortfall at GM.

Fiat brand December results outperformed the market, though they fell 14.7%. For the year, Fiat reported a total of 581,885 registrations, a 14.9% deficit compared to 2011. Fiat dropped from seventh to tenth among brands as it was passed by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which all benefitted from the stronger German market.

Lancia/Chrysler took a 24.2% dive in December, finishing 2012 down 9.2% from the previous year. Alfa Romeo continues to struggle: December sales fell 36.5%. Total 2012 Alfa sales were down by nearly a third, 31.1%. New Alfa registrations were off by more than 40,000 units.

Jeep delivered some good news, being one of the only brands to finish both December and 2012 in the black. Jeep sales were up 19.0% for the year.

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