New car sales in Europe rebounded sharply in April, showing a 9.6-percent rise over April 2007 the ACEA European automakers association said today. The rebound is more of a statistical impact than a real rise however, since Easter was in March this year. Also the rise in April came after a slump of 9.5 percent in March. The y-o-y figures, which showed similar rises in both western Europe and the newer eastern EU states in April, were thius largely due to extra working days in most European nations last month thanks to the early arrival of Easter this year.
Smoothing out the April blip by looking at the year-to-date figures, Italy recorded an 8.2 percent drop in new car registrations to 867,000 vehicles while Spain -- the smallest of the big five European markets -- notched up an 11.5 percent fall to 471,000.
German automotive industry association VDA said late on Thursday that this was the fourth month in a row that registrations of new cars fell in Italy.
Indeed taken as a whole new car registrations rose 1 percent in the first four months of the year, and this growth was almost entirely due to growth in the new EU markets in Eastern Europe.
A total of 1,421,230 new cars were registered in April in the 28 countries reviewed by the ACEA - the 27 EU member states, minus Cyprus and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
Germany, the biggest European market, continued to make up ground following a relatively poor last year due to a sales tax rise, with its April 2008 figure of 317,960 new car registrations representing a 20 percent rise over the same month last year.
The German figures were "supported by an improving labour market and a recovering consumer confidence," the ACEA said.
By contrast Italy, the second biggest European car market, saw figures continue to slide, down 2.9 percent to 201,844. There would have been a bigger deceleration of 12 percent if it had not been for the extra working days, the automakers' association said.
Regarding constructors' figures, the biggest European automaker Volkswagen enjoyed strong sales growth of 11.4 percent to 293,567 units.
Its compatriots did even better in ales growth terms with BMW registering a 24.7 percent increase to 80,295 units and Daimler 17.6 percent to 79,660 units.
The second biggest seller, France's Peugeot Citroen, enjoyed a more modest 6.8 percent hike in sales to 183,229 units with Ford Group sales up 7.8 percent at 141,488.
Toyota sales continued their downward trend, dropping 1.7 percent with its top end Lexus marque suffering a 12.9 percent fall to just 2,704 new registrations in April.