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Fiat closes factories for 24 days


Fiat Group has closed its factories in Italy until January 12, extending the usual Christmas shutdown, as European new-car sales continue to fall

It has also postponed the launch of several new models, including the Alfa Romeo 149, but says the Fiat 500 convertible will come out on time.

Reports earlier this week suggested that Fiat Group was holding merger talks with French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

European new-car sales year-to-date are down one million on 2007, and worsened in November when 25.3 percent fewer cars were sold than in October.

Volkswagen remains the leading car brand, though its sales have dipped by 3.8 percent. Audi is the only major player to lift sales in 2008, notching a 0.2 percent increase.

Iceland, already rocked by bank collapses, is the hardest hit country, with new-car registrations down 94.6 percent in November.

But Nordic neighbour Finland is bucking the trend, with November sales rising 77.5 percent on 2007’s, and year-to-date registrations up by 9.5 percent.



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