German Car Sales Surge Boosts Polish Production

Sales up 40% in March

An increase in car sales in Germany has had the knock-on effect of boosting factories producing small cars in neighboring Poland destined for sale on the German market, Polish car makers said on April 3.

German auto sales shot up 40% in March compared with the same month in 2008 in what analysts called a "shopping frenzy" that they said would lighten the recession in Europe's top economy.

"Our factory in Tychy producing the Panda model, the Fiat-500 and Fiat-600 is working at full steam," Fiat Auto Poland spokesman Boguslaw Cieslar said. The car maker has seen exports to Germany rise four-fold to 26,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

Fiat's Polish factories employ 5,850 workers and produced half a million cars in 2008, 97% of which were exported, spokesman Cieslar said.

Volkswagen factories in Poznan, western Poland, are also working at full steam with production orders full for the next three to four months, said Volkswagen spokesman Piotr Danielewicz. The passenger version of Volkswagen's Caddy model accounts for 90% of the company's production in Poland, he said.

Germany's VDA auto federation said sales in March rose to 401,000 vehicles, explaining the rise was due to a government bonus for scrapping old cars for newer, greener models as well as a larger number of business days this year.

The rise was the biggest since 1992 during an economic boom that followed German reunification, VDA said, which also warned however that sales would slow down as the initial rush of people applying for the bonus thins out.

The car scrapping bonus is set to be phased out at the end of the year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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