Renault, Volkswagen and Ford spurred European car sales to their strongest performance in four years in December, as the sector’s recovery spread to Mediterranean markets.
The Association of European Carmakers (ACEA) said registrations in the European Union and European Free Trade Association trading bloc jumped 13 % from a year earlier to 948,090 vehicles.
Italy, the region’s fourth-biggest market, swung to growth of 1.4 %, after shrinking for 11 months, as sales in all major markets increased. Greece and Portugal, victims of the euro zone’s debt crisis, posted double-digit growth.
“The recovery process in Europe is seemingly taking hold,” Matthias Wissmann, head of Germany’s VDA auto industry lobby said. “People are building up trust again in the strength of economies.”
Sales at Renault jumped 29 %, driven by a 48 percent-surge in sales of its low-cost Dacia brand. Germany’s VW, Europe’s No. 1 carmaker by volume, posted a 22 % rise in sales, with double-digit growth extending from luxury flagship Audi to the no-frills Skoda and Seat divisions.
Ford registrations were up 19.5 % and Toyota, the world’s biggest-selling carmaker, posted a 10.8 % increase.
Retail incentives granted across the EU’s five largest markets rose by an average 14 percent last year to 2,525 euros ($3,400) per vehicle, according to market research by a major independent pollster.