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VW Europe sales rise amid market upswing

Volkswagen saw sales rise in September - the month in which news of its emissions cheating scandal broke. But its sales grew below the market average, in a first sign the scandal might soon be taking a heavier toll.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) published

sales figures for the month of September

on Friday, showing that the embattled German carmaker VW sold 8.4 percent more cars than in the same month a year ago.

VW underperformed the overall trend in the EU car market, however, as sales in the 28-member bloc rose by 9.8 percent to 1.357 million vehicles that month. VW Group again took the lion's share with 316,000 vehicles sold in September, ensuring a market share of 23.3 percent, down slightly by 0.3 percent.

The group's core VW brand improved less significantly with an increase of 6.6 percent. In the September, the brand's diesel vehicles were identified by US regulators as containing cheat software to manipulate emissions tests. VW admitted to the scam, which has resulted in a wave of litigations and mass recalls across the world.

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EU car recovery

Industry analysts said VW's underperformance in September might be a first sign of falling sales amid the emissions crisis at Europe's biggest carmaker. EY consultancy's car expert Peter Fuss told the news agency AFP that the full effects will hit VW with "delays of between several weeks and even months."

VW's competitors would "sense opportunities" now, he added, seeking to boost their market share with "aggressive discounts that will lead to price wars."

According to ACEA data, the European car market remained buoyant in September, marking the 25th straight month of rising sales. Demand was up in all of the Continent's major car markets, with the Spanish market logging the strongest growth with 22.5 percent, ahead of Italy, which was up by 17.2 percent.

ACEA data also showed that Europe-wide full-year vehicle sales jumped above the 10-million mark, which was still far behind the nearly 12 million units moved in September in the pre-crisis record year of 2007.

uhe/cjc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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