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New SUVs at Peugeot, Ford offset UK drag on Europe car sales

[FRANKFURT] New sport utility vehicles like the Peugeot 5008 and a jump in demand in France helped revive European car sales in October, offsetting another month of consumer unease in the UK on big-ticket purchases.

Registrations rose 5.9 per cent from a year earlier to 1.21 million vehicles, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, said Thursday in a statement. This marks a return to growth across most of the region after a slide in September, when concerns about Brexit also discouraged UK buyers from buying new cars. Demand in that nation, the second-biggest European auto market, fell a seventh consecutive month in October.

The euro-zone economy is set for its best annual performance in at least a decade, with consumer confidence at its highest since 2001. In contrast, public concern is rising in the U.K., which isn't in the euro area, as talks have made little progress on the terms for the nation's departure from the European Union.

Full-year sales in western Europe next year are likely to be "constrained by struggling UK sales," analysts Jonathon Poskitt and David Oakley at research company LMC Automotive Ltd. wrote in a report before the ACEA published its statement.

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PSA Group's main Peugeot brand posted a 17 per cent jump in European sales in October, helped by a retool of the seven-seat 5008 into an SUV from an earlier minivan version. The Opel and Vauxhall nameplates, which the Paris-based automaker bought from General Motors Co in August, together sold 2.5 per cent fewer cars. Vauxhall's primary market is the UK.

European registrations at French manufacturer Renault SA jumped 18 per cent, following the rollout of the Alaskan pickup truck and a new version of the Koleos SUV. Ford Motor Co's sales in Europe increased 5.8 per cent. The US manufacturer said this week that deliveries of the Kuga crossover in a 20-country portion of the region surged 44 per cent.

The ACEA's figures come from the European Union's 28 member countries, excluding Malta, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.