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Fiat posts sales boost in March

THE Italian auto maker Fiat SpA, which is seeking an alliance with troubled United States auto maker Chrysler LLC, outsold the competition last month in a contracting European market, yesterday reporting a 14.7-percent increase in March sales amid an overall drop in European car sales of 9 percent.

Fiat was the only European auto maker to see sales grow and its market share rose to 9.2 percent, from 7.4 percent in March 2008.

The Italian auto maker is in talks to take a minority share of Chrysler in a deal aimed at saving the US auto maker from insolvency. But Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne has said the deal, which must be reached by April 30, could fail if US and Canadian unions aren't willing to make concessions. Talks between the Canadian Auto Workers union and Chrysler will resume on Monday.

Fiat said its sales grew more than 200 percent in Germany, where the market was up 40 percent thanks to a government incentive giving car owners US$2,500 to trade in older cars for new models.

Italian car sales were flat, despite a government incentive program.


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