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Europe car sales speed up in April

Passenger car market puts pedal to the metal with a return to growth, rising 9.6%

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CAR SALES in the top European markets rose sharply in April, statistics showed on Thursday, confounding fears that a slowdown in the eurozone's recovery might put the brakes on the continent's vehicle industry.

"In April 2018, the EU passenger car market showed a strong return to growth (+9.6 per cent) after demand declined in March," the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement.

The Spanish car market grew the fastest - by 12.3 per cent - followed by the UK at 10.4 per cent, France at 9 per cent, Germany at 8 per cent and Italy at 6.5 per cent, data published by the association showed.

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In total, over 1.3 million new cars hit Europe's roads in April, it added. German mammoth Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, saw its sales surge 13.8 per cent despite the dieselgate emissions scandal.

The group's Audi brand recorded a slight decrease in sales, though the Volkswagen brand jumped 19.6 per cent. Seat - which is especially popular in Spain - saw an increase of 25.8 per cent while luxury brand Porsche surged 12.8 per cent.

French auto giant PSA, the continent's second-biggest car manufacturer, recorded a 70 per cent gain thanks to the merger of Opel Vauxhall with Peugeot and Citroen, while Renault sales rose 9.7 per cent.

From January to April, the European car market grew 2.7 per cent, with only Britain recording a drop of -8.8 per cent for the first few months of the year, in a sign that Brexit fears are denting consumer confidence in the UK.

"Overall, 5,478,442 new passenger cars were registered in the EU during the first four months of the year," the association said. In 2017, the number of new cars sold in Europe had topped the 15-million mark for the first time since the 2007-8 global financial meltdown. AFP