Car sales in the European Union posted a year-on-year increase of 10.6 per cent in March, the strongest monthly rise in a year, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said Thursday.
New car registrations are a closely watched indicator of economic health. In the EU, they slumped in recent years as the bloc battled with recession, but, in a sign that the crisis is easing, they have risen for the past 19 consecutive months.
ACEA, a Brussels-based trade group, said 1,604,107 passenger cars were sold in March, compared to just under 1.45 million in February.
Considering major markets, sales were particularly buoyant in Spain, increasing by 40.5 per cent, and in Italy, surging 15.1 per cent. In France they were up 9.3 per cent, in Germany 9 per cent, and in Britain 6 per cent.
Across the EU, year-on-year car sales dropped only in the Netherlands, by 1.1 per cent, and in Poland, by 6.3 per cent.
ACEA also published figures for the first quarter of 2015, showing an increase in new car registrations of 8.6 per cent, to 3,527,704 units, compared to about 3.25 million shifted in the same period of 2014.
Germany's Volkswagen group retained its market leadership position, with a first-quarter share of 24.3 per cent, followed by Peugeot-Citroen (PSA), on 10.7 per cent, Renault on 9.5 per cent, Ford on 7.5 per cent and Opel on 6.8 per cent.