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Sales of new cars rose in France

PARIS, May 3 – Sales of new cars rose in France in April, but the increase was sharply lower than the previous month owing to the reduction of a government "cash-for-clunkers" programme, trade data showed on Monday.

A total of 190,986 new cars were registered in April, a 1.9-percent increase from the figure for the same month a year ago, according to the committee of French car manufacturers CCFA.

"This figure is normal. We see a progressive reduction of the effects of cash-for-clunkers," said CCFA spokesman Francois Roudier.

New car sales had jumped by 17.9 percent in March on a 12-month comparison.

French brands rose by 8.0 percent in April, faring better than foreign makes which fell by 4.9 percent. French cars controlled 56.1 percent of the market.

Sales of Renault cars rose by 17.2 percent while PSA Peugeot Citroen saw an increase of 7.3 percent.

Among foreign auto makers, the Toyota-Lexus group fell 49.2 percent, Volkswagen was down 20 percent and Fiat dropped 13.3 percent.

By contrast, Nissan sales rose by 49.2 percent, GM Europe increased 43.5 percent and BMW gained 24.1 percent.

A year ago the European car industry was suffering severely from the global economic downturn. Stocks of unsold cars were high and bearing down on manufacturers\’ cash positions.

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The French government, in common with policies in several countries, introduced a cash incentive for people to scrap old cars and buy new ones. This scheme, now being phased out, boosted the market for new cars for much of 2009.

The government reduced the bonus it offers to car buyers from 1,000 euros in 2009 to 700 euros on January 1. It will fall to 500 euros on July 1.

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