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News : EU Economy Last Updated: Dec 6, 2013 - 7:33 AM

German domestic car sales in doldrums; Foreign demand strong
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 5, 2013 - 3:49 AM

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Despite low interest rates and big discounts, German domestic car sales in 2013 are at the lowest in three years while carmakers are adding work shifts over the Christmas/ New Year holidays, to meet foreign demand.

Domestic car sales are forecast to fall 5% in 2013 to reach their lowest levels in three years, VDA, the German automotive industry federation, said Tuesday.

Matthias Wissmann, VDA president, told a news conference on Tuesday that forecast 2013 German domestic sales of about 2.93mi were unsatisfactory. He said 2014 new car sales would again surpass 3m next year.

VDA figures show that German car manufacturers are expected to sell 14.2m cars worldwide, of which about 5.5m will be made in Germany.

Overall, the rise of 3.5% is due to strong demand in overseas markets, mainly inn the United States and China, VDA said. In 2014, German carmakers were expected to sell about 14.7m vehicles, the group added.

Last month, Jörg Asmussen, ECB executive board member, said: "While domestic production has remained relatively constant at around 5.5m vehicles per year between 1992 and 2011, foreign production, particularly in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, increased more than threefold, reaching 7.1m vehicles."

Meanwhile, according to Deutsche Welle, German luxury carmakers Audi and Daimler have announced plans to shorten end-of-year holidays for their workers and to introduce extra shifts to meet high demand. The Munich-based carmaker BMW also announced that its factories were running at 120% capacity, and that additional shifts were likely to be introduced next year.

According to Finfacts, the average age of an American car was 11.4 years in 2012 , up from 9 in 2000; in 2010, the average age of a European car was 8 years , up from 7.5 in 2004 - - more than a third of cars are over 10 years old. Improved quality is a factor but the squeezing of incomes must also be

It seems like a long, long time ago...

In 2007, Christian Pauls, the German ambassador to Ireland, raised hackles when he made some disparaging comments to visiting German businessmen on the host country including citing junior medical consultants' rejection of €200,000 a year posts on the basis that this sum was 'Mickey Mouse' money.

He said that he was at the National Concert Hall when an announcer appealed for the owner of a 1993-registered car to move the vehicle because it was blocking an entrance.

"Of course no one moved," said Pauls. "All the Irish are driving 2006 and 2007 cars. For all I know the car is still there."

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