A row of cars on a European sales lot Oli Scarff, Getty Images

European Car Registrations Jump 14.6% in June

The continent's auto manufacturers group report especially significant increases in Spain and Italy, with total registrations starting to approach the robust pre-recession numbers of 2007.

PARIS — New car registrations in Europe jumped a robust 14.6% in June, according to figures released Thursday, reflecting the improving health of one the European Union's main pillars of industrial activity.

"All major markets contributed positively to the overall expansion," the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said in a statement. "Demand for new passenger cars in the EU was up, pursuing the upward trend commenced 22 months ago and marking the largest over-the-month increase since December 2009."

The ACEA said new EU car registration for the first half of 2015 had increased 8.2% over the same period last year, and revised its growth forecast for the year from 2% to 5%.

The increase may reflect more general vitality in sluggish European economies. 

Registrations of new cars, a proxy for sales, provide an important indicator of consumer demand. Auto manufacturing is also a major employer, and relies on components from a wide range of industrial partners. 

Total first-half registrations surpassed 7 million cars, the ACEA said. Year-on-year increases in June were led by Spain with 22%, Italy's 15.2%, 7% in Germany and 6.1% in France.

Europe's car industry was particularly hard hit by the global financial crisis, and has struggled to bounce back amid weak or recessionary economic activity since. 

Despite its improving fortunes, however, Europe's auto industry is still far from top form.

Even if EU car makers were to double first half sales to surpass 14 million units for the full year, the total would still be far shy of the 16 million vehicles sold in 2007 before the financial crisis and resulting economic slump.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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