Wednesday 17 January 2018

Economies fuel Euro car sales

European car sales rose to their highest level. Stock photo: PA
European car sales rose to their highest level. Stock photo: PA

European car sales in March rose to their highest level for the month as Fiat Chrysler and Renault took advantage of a solid economy to lure more buyers.

Benefiting from the shift in Easter to April, industry-wide registrations climbed 11pc to 1.94 million vehicles last month, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said yesterday. Fiat and Renault gained market share at the expense of regional leader Volkswagen and PSA Group.

Falling unemployment and 15 consecutive quarters of euro area economic growth helped buoy consumer confidence in Europe, underpinning demand. Even the UK, Europe's biggest car market after Germany, has resisted a Brexit-induced slowdown, with sales up 8.4pc last month.This contrasts with the US, where vehicle sales unexpectedly declined in March.

"The latest car market result supports the positive news that we have seen from the wider economy in Europe", Jonathon Poskitt, an analyst with LMC Automotive in Oxford, said in a report, adding that the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate in western Europe is currently at the highest level since early 2008.

Annual deliveries in the coming years are expected to fall short of the 2007 peak as more consumers opt for car-sharing and other alternatives to owning their own vehicles. LMC forecasts that western European sales will rise 2.7pc in 2017, compared with the 7.4pc gain through the first three months of the year. Germany posted an 11pc gain in March. Registrations in France, in the midst of a hotly contested election, rose 7pc. In Italy, car deliveries surged 18pc. The ACEA compiles numbers from the EU's 28 member countries, excluding Malta, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

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