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Family-controlled carmakers see a spring in their step

The year has started on a positive note for family-controlled carmakers, with BMW, Audi and Peugeot Citroen reporting a rise in sales. Helped by surging demand not just in emerging markets, but also the developed world, it has raised hopes that the worst of recession may be running its course for the automobile sector.

BMW, controlled by the Quandt family and one of the world's best-selling premium carmakers, has seen deliveries of its own-brand vehicles and its Mini and Rolls-Royce marques increase by 28% this January when compared with the same month last year. While China is its most important new market, BMW said that sales in Europe and the US also made a strong comeback.

Rival carmaker Audi, part of family-controlled Volkswagen Group, also grew substantially and reported the "best January on record", starting off the new year with a 23% year-on-year jump in sales. Controlled by chairman Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Volkswagen founder, Audi said that despite an overall market decline in Europe, its sales figures nevertheless increased with Spain witnessing a 24% growth and Russia a much higher 48% rise.

Not to be outdone, Paris-based family-controlled Peugeot-Citroen has also improved its financial performance – its operating profits for 2010 increased to €1.7 billion after a loss of around €700 million in 2009.

The figures will come as welcome news for the companies and the families behind them, after the motor industry suffered a torrid time in the last few years in the wake of the credit crisis. Peugeot-Citroen found it particularly hard, requiring a €3 billion loan from the French government to stay afloat. The company paid off €1 billion of the loan in September last year, and plans to repay the remaining €2 billion by April 2011.

Unsurprisingly, figures indicate a sharp upturn in the market and show the increasing importance of the emerging markets to car companies, with the booming Chinese market leading the revival. Growing demand from consumers particularly in China and India is a driving factor for these carmakers, as is the recovery in Europe and the US markets.  

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