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European Car Sales Post First Gain in 19 Months


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Car sales in Europe rose for the first time in 19 months, mainly led by growth in Germany, Spain and the UK. Registrations in April rose 1.8 percent to 1.08 million vehicles, up from 1.06 million cars a year earlier, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). Sales for the first four months of the year fell 7 percent however to 4.18 million vehicles.

The growth for April can’t hide the fact that the European auto market is at a two-decade low, with industry executives forecasting a drop of about 5 percent for 2013 as the euro zone is in recession.Due to a rise in consumer confidence, car sales in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and auto market, rose 3.8 percent in April, ending five months of drops. Registrations increased 11 percent in Spain and 15 percent in the UK, the only car market of Europe’s five biggest to grow in 2012. However, in other big markets such as France and Italy, sales fell 5.3 percent and 11 percent respectively.

The ACEA’s figures include registrations in the 27-nation European Union as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. April growth comes after sales in the region fell 8.7 percent in January and 10 percent in February and March.

The automaker that posted the biggest sales increase is Daimler AG, which posted an 11 percent jump fueled by demand for the A- and B-Class compact models. These models drove sales of the Mercedes-Benz brand up 13 percent. Registrations at Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker, rose 9.7 percent, with the Audi brand gaining 8.9 percent. Renault also gained 5 percent in April, boosted by the Dacia brand’s remarkable 28 percent increase.

Things were not that bright for Europe’s second-biggest manufacturer, PSA Peugeot Citroen, which posted a 10 percent sales decline in April. Fiat also posted a 9.8 percent drop, while GM Europe sales dropped 4.1 percent, dragged by the 28 percent plunge at the Chevrolet brand.

BMW’s registrations in Europe fell 2.9 percent, with Ford posting a 0.6 percent decline.

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