Thursday, June 16, 2005

Now here is a crisis…

…of sorts.

According to The Daily Telegraph today (business section, of course), car sales across Europe fell for the fifth straight month in May, led by grim results from Fiat, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Saab.

The Fiat Group plunged 25.5pc as Italy's worst economic crisis since the Second World War scared consumers away from showrooms, while a strike by lorry-drivers delayed car deliveries.

Carlo de Benedetti, the ex-head of Olivetti and a former top Fiat executive, said yesterday nothing could save the cost-laden company from a calamitous downwards spiral.

"I am sorry to say that Fiat no longer has any hope. It is in trouble because it has been protected, and those who have been over-protected always succumb to the first infection that comes along," he said, adding that Italy's economic crisis was far worse than generally understood.

There is some good news though. At least with the African debt relief package going through, Mercedes sales should pick up.

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