| PARIS, April 17
PARIS, April 17 Europe's car sales recovery may
be taking hold, according to registrations data published on
Thursday, but confidential industry surveys show the price war
is raging on.
Discounts outgrew first-quarter sales, according to the data
seen by Reuters, casting doubt on the strength of the recovery
and earnings outlook for carmakers in the region.
Registrations rose 10.4 percent in March, the Association of
European Carmakers said, rounding off an 8.1 percent gain for
the first three months, after six straight years of contraction.
But average retail incentives jumped 12 percent to almost
2,750 euros ($3,800) per vehicle in the five biggest markets,
the findings of a major market researcher show.
"There should be significant concern about artificial
growth," said Ernst & Young senior automotive partner Peter
Fuss, citing discounts, government incentives and cut-price
sales of unused vehicles as 'nearly new'.
The industry's bottom line "continues to be under severe
pressure", he said.
($1 = 0.7243 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Edward Taylor in Frankfurt and Gilles
Guillaume in Paris; Editing by James Regan)