European Auto Sales Rebound Sharply In October

Fiat, Toyota and Nissan enjoy largest gins, while Renault, Daimler and BMW see sales slip.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Fiat SpA, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. saw the biggest gains as sales of new cars in Europe rose in October after four months of decline, the manufacturers' association ACEA said Wednesday.

However, France's Renault SA and German automakers DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG saw lower sales from a year ago.

The ACEA said sales were up 3.6 percent last month compared to October 2005, with manufacturers shifting nearly 1.21 million cars as Europeans start to cash in on a growing economy.

''This year's result ... is a sign of recovery after four consecutive months of decline,'' it said. Sales in all major European nations were up except for Italy, which remained flat.

Fiat sales were up 16 percent, however, while Toyota rose 15.3 percent and Nissan by 16.1 percent.

Europe's largest car company, Volkswagen AG, saw sales increase 4 percent, moving 255,569 cars out of showrooms. It controls just over a fifth of the market. Sales at its nearest rival, French company PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, surged 7.1 percent.

U.S.-based Ford Motor Co. was up 4.5 percent as better sales of Ford and Volvo models masked a drop at Land Rover and Jaguar. General Motors Corp. also had mixed results. It reported a 5.4 percent increase overall as Opel, Vauxhall and Chevrolet models rose but Saab and GM brands were down.

Renault fell 2 percent on poor sales of its core Renault models despite a 40 percent increase at its Romanian subsidiary Dacia.

DaimlerChrysler was down 8.2 percent as Mercedes sales dropped 7.4 percent and its small city Smart cars tumbled 32.1 percent. Only its Chrysler models were up, by 22 percent.

This mirrored BMW, where a 3.9 percent slide could be blamed on much lower Mini sales, down 27.3 percent and flat sales of BMW models, up just 0.9 percent.

Germany was Europe's largest car buyer for the month at 293,832 new registrations, with sales up 1.4 percent from a year ago. France saw a strong 8.4 percent surge, Spain bought 5.8 percent more cars and Britain was up slightly by 0.9 percent.

The ACEA's sales figures count new car registrations from the 25 nations of the EU as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.