European New Car Sales Rebound Sharply in April

Germany leads sales with a 20% increase over last year.

Showing a 9.6% rise over the same month last year despite global financial problems and soaring fuel, new car sales in Europe rebounded sharply in April, the ACEA European automakers association said on May 16.

The bounce came after a slump of 9.5% in March amid a credit crunch and financial insecurity which has spooked buyers in the region's biggest markets. The figures, which showed similar rises in both western Europe and the newer eastern EU states in April, were partly due to extra working days in most European nations last month thanks to the early arrival of Easter this year.

A total of 1,421,230 new cars were registered in April in the 28 countries reviewed by the ACEA -- the 27 EU member states, minus Cyprus and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Germany, the biggest European market, continued to make up ground following a relatively poor last year due to a sales tax rise, with its April 2008 figure of 317,960 new car registrations representing a 20% rise over the same month last year. The German figures were "supported by an improving labor market and a recovering consumer confidence," the ACEA said.

By contrast Italy, the second biggest European car market, saw figures continue to slide, down 2.9% to 201,844. There would have been a bigger deceleration of 12% if it had not been for the extra working days, the automakers' association said.

The biggest European automaker Volkswagen enjoyed strong sales growth of 11.4% to 293,567 units. BMW registered a 24.7% increase to 80,295 units and Daimler 17.6% to 79,660 units. Peugeot Citroen, enjoyed a more modest 6.8% hike in sales to 183,229 units with Ford Group sales up 7.8% at 141,488. Toyota sales continued their downward trend, dropping 1.7% with its top end Lexus marque suffering a 12.9% fall to just 2,704 new registrations in April.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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