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Austrians buy more cars

The number of car registrations is climbing.

Official figures presented yesterday (Weds) show that the number of car sales edged up by one per cent to around 88,800 from the first quarter of 2011 to the same time span of this year. Motorcycles (plus 5.1 per cent) were more popular as well while lorry registrations dropped by 10 per cent.

The Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and People’s Party (ÖVP) has increased the tax on mineral oil products like car fuel several times in the past years. Repairs, maintenance costs and car insurance have become more expensive as well. These developments, uncertain economic forecasts, other tax hikes, salary cuts and high inflation fail to terminate Austrians’ love for cars.

More than 356,000 cars were sold across the country in 2011. This was an improvement of 8.4 per cent compared to the previous year – and an all-time record. Volkswagen (VW) was once more found to be Austrians’ preferred brand. The Wolfsburg-based automotive industry powerhouse sold 65,000 cars in Austria last year. Opel made second place with 26,000 sales.

VW will create thousands of new jobs in the coming months in Austria via its Salzburg-based affiliate Porsche Holding. Alain Favey, the head of Europe’s biggest car dealer, said his firm’s workforce level would soon range around 30,000. Porsche Holding had 21,000 employees by the end of last year.

Porsche Holding is operating across Europe but also in several other regions in the world. Speaking to the Salzburger Nachrichten, Favey said the enterprise was considered as an increasingly important part of the VW Group "which is needed to make progress". The French car industry expert praised Porsche Holding’s information technology expertise. He claimed that the company also excelled in creating structures for distribution and sale in small countries.

Meanwhile, low-cost petrol stations are becoming increasingly popular in Austria where around 9.6 billion litres of car fuel were sold last year (2010: 9.7 billion litres). Markus Friesacher is a pioneer among no-frills service station managers. His company, Free Energy Trading (FE), currently manages 30 petrol stations in Austria. FE will open a first filling station in Slovenia within the next weeks. It will be the first FE petrol station on foreign soil.

Clients can only pay by credit or bank card at the stations which have no regular employees. Petrol stations of FE and its rivals do not feature shops. Established petrol stations like OMV, Shell and BP try to increase their profits by offering not only newspapers, road toll stickers and maps in their stores. They are constantly expanding the product range which now usually includes sandwiches, fresh coffee to go, gifts, toys and a wide range of car equipment.

Car club ÖAMTC said one litre of diesel fuel cost 1.473 Euros on average on Tuesday, up from 1.439 Euros last Friday. The price for diesel fuel was 0.72 Euros 10 years ago. ÖAMTC claimed that price developments regarding Eurosuper car fuel was similar.

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