October 4, 2017 / 12:53 PM / in 10 months

UPDATE 1-Czech car sales cruising to record 2017

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PRAGUE, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Czech new car registrations rose by 6.6 percent in the first nine months of 2017 to 205,511 vehicles, putting sales easily on pace to surpass a record 2016, the country’s Car Importers Association said on Wednesday.

The Czech economy posted the European Union’s fastest quarterly growth in the second quarter, expanding by 2.5 percent. Unemployment is the lowest in the bloc and wages showed their biggest gains in a decade in that time.

That is boosting retailers’ business and also stronger demand for cars after sales already hit a record 259,693 units last year.

“We are maintaining high sales,” Josef Pokorny, who heads the association, said. “We have an absolute record in the first nine months and it is expected that the end of the year will be very strong.”

The association cited a study from consultancy PwC that saw sales rising 6 to 8 percent this year although growth will be slower than last year.

In the January-September period, domestic brand Skoda Auto, part of the Volkswagen group, remained the biggest seller with a market share of 31 percent.

It was followed by the VW brand with 10 percent and Hyundai with a 7.8 percent share.

The country of 10.6 million is home to three car plants, including Skoda, Hyundai Motor Co and a joint venture of Toyota Motor Corp and Peugeot.

The country produced an all-time high 1.34 million vehicles last year with the bulk headed for export and is on a record pace in 2017. (Reporting by Petra Vodstrcilova; writing by Jason Hovet; editing by Jason Neely)

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