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Europe's auto upturn firms in June as mid-market, luxury brands gain

[BERLIN] Demand for mid-market brands and luxury autos pushed growth of new car sales in Europe to the highest monthly rate in five and a half years in June, industry data showed on Thursday, benefiting from extra selling days in some key markets.

Volume makers including Volkswagen's core division, Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler's Fiat brand posted double-digit gains as the region's auto-market recovery is strengthening, same as luxury nameplates Porsche, BMW and Toyota's Lexus.

New registrations in the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries rose 14.8 percent year-over-year to 1.41 million cars, the Brussels-based Association of European Carmakers (ACEA) said.

The 14.6 percent gain in the 28-nation EU excluding Malta was the biggest monthly increase since December 2009, ACEA said. "We expect the industry's strong performance to continue throughout the second half of the year," Ford's European sales chief Roelant de Waard told Reuters on Tuesday. "Underlying demand is quite stable." Ford recorded an increase of 16 per cent in June and 6.7 per cent for the first half, a boon after years of European pain for the US carmaker.

Among the top premium gainers last month was Porsche with a 27 per cent increase in sales while the VW brand's 18 per cent gain stood out among volume makes.

Double-digit gains in the region's 10 largest markets took the first-half expansion in the EU plus EFTA bloc to 8.2 per cent or 7.41 million autos, ACEA said, bolstering expectations as publication of carmakers' second-quarter results is drawing near.

Solid growth in Europe is earning carmakers a respite as China, the world's largest auto market and for years a source of stable revenues for global players VW, General Motors and BMW, is slithering.