European car sales rose 5.7% in March, industry data showed yesterday, helped by discounts and other incentives, although sales for Volkswagen’s core brand continued to fall in the wake of the emissions scandal.
Nearly every European country recorded growth last month, even though there were fewer trading days than last year when the Easter holiday fell in April, the data from the European auto industry association (ACEA) showed.
Italy recorded the strongest rise of any major market with demand rising 17.4% followed by France where sales increased 7.5%, but sales dipped marginally in Germany, Europe’s biggest car market, and fell 0.7% in Spain.
Sales within the European Union have now risen for 31 consecutive months, hitting levels close to those recorded in 2007, shortly before the economic crisis began to hit the car industry, ACEA said.
The low oil price and cheap credit helped underpin demand across Europe, PWC said.
Sales of VW brand cars, excluding Audi and Porsche brands, fell 1.6% in March, according to ACEA.
By contrast, VW’s mass-market brand rivals Peugeot, Ford, and General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall all grew, with sales up 2%, 0.6% and 6.4% respectively.