Tight battle among importers of Ford, Renault, Skoda, and VW for top spot

Whereas last year Renault won the “race” of imported automotive brands, with 6,000 cars more than its second place competitor, this year’s ranking will most likely be decided in December, as the volumes of the top four imported brands are very close, daily Ziarul Financiar informs on September 11.
Ford could reach more than 28,000 units, if the sales of importer Romcar continues to register the over 30% growth rate seen in the first eight months of the year. Such a volume would put Ford in the first position among the imported brands, ahead of Skoda, which has reduced its target to 25,500-26,000 units, and ahead of Renault, which, if its 21% lower rate in the first 7 months continues, will see its sales drop below 26,000 cars.
Romcar, Ford’s importer on the domestic market, posted a 30% increase in sales to a total of 16,411 vehicles in the first eight months, which accounts for a 7% share of the imported vehicle market, says Dragos Magdalina, the company’s sales manager.
“In 2008, we set out to reach a 26,000 unit volume and own 10% of the imported vehicle market. It is hard to say who will be number one in terms of imports, given that the competition is becoming tighter,” Dragos Magdalina said.
At the same time Skoda, a brand that was the leader in terms of vehicle imports in the first 5 months, posted a 10% growth rate in the first eight months and a volume of 17,106 units, whereas its growth rate in 2007 stood at 12.6%.

Unlike Ford, Renault and Volkswagen, which already hold a significant position on the utility vehicle segment through Ford Transit, Renault Kangoo and VW Caddy, Skoda sells cars almost exclusively, given that its only utility vehicle sold a mere 100 units in the first 8 months.
“The 2008 goals will exceed the volume registered last year and maintain the leading position on the imported car market, with a volume of 26,000 units and a market share of approximately 8.5%,” said Vlad Rusu, Skoda brand manager within Porsche Romania. Volkswagen, the second best-selling imported brand in 2008, posted a 2% increase in the first 8 months and reached 17,021 units.
Renault’s sales figures for August were not available by the time this story was ready for print, but the French carmaker posted an approximately 20% decline in sales, to 14,791 units, which account for 9.8% of the import market. If the same decline rate was registered in August, then Renault’s sales in the first eight months stood at more than 17,300 units, according to Ziarul Financiar daily estimates.
Renault launched the new Symbol yesterday, a model that accounted for half of its sales on the Romanian market, with prices that range from 7,990 euros, VAT included, to 11,490 euros.
“With the launch of the new Symbol, Renault will maintain the top spot on the imported brands market, a position we’ve held for nine years in a row,” Renault representatives said.
The data reported by the four brands (Renault, Skoda, Volkswagen and Ford) so far show differences of less than 700 units among them, while in the past the market leader would win the race well ahead of the runners-up.
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