February 16, 2017 / 7:06 AM / in 5 months

GM's Opel, Peugeot lagging rivals in strong European market - ACEA

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The Peugeot logo is seen on a car at a dealership of French car maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Europe's No. 2 automaker by volume, in Selestat, eastern France, September 7, 2012.Vincent Kessler

BERLIN (Reuters) - General Motors (GM.N) and PSA Group (PEUP.PA) posted weaker European sales in January than any other major carmaker as they discuss a possible purchase of GM's European auto operations by PSA.

A combination between GM and PSA would create a manufacturer with about 16 percent of the European passenger car market, ahead of French rival Renault (RENA.PA) and behind Germany's Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE).

New passenger car registrations at PSA, including the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association rose 6.5 percent in January, compared with 5.3 percent for GM's Opel and Vauxhall brands, the Association of European Carmakers (ACEA) said on Thursday.

Conversely, Volkswagen (VW) group, nearly a year and a half after its emissions scandal came to light, racked up 10 percent growth last month, as did Renault, according to Brussels-based ACEA.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) even recorded a 15 percent rate of expansion while Ford (F.N) came in at 9.5 percent.

Overall registrations in the region jumped 10 percent on extra selling days to 1.204 million vehicles from 1.094 million a year earlier, ACEA said.

Britain's largely foreign-owned car industry has thrived in recent years, but the vote to leave the European Union (EU) has cast doubt on future growth by raising the prospect of tariffs which would make UK plants less competitive.

Britain posted the lowest rate of growth among the seven largest EU markets in January at 2.9 percent, compared with around 10 percent expansion each in Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

In the high-margin segment, Germany's leading luxury nameplates Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) posted 16 percent and 11 percent growth respectively, faring better than VW's Audi brand at 3.1 percent, according to ACEA.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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