New car sales in Europe surged 7 percent in February 2015 to 958,100 vehicles, thanks to a recovering economy, lower fuel prices and dealer incentives, according to the Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA. For the first two months of 2015, sales jumped 6.6 percent to 1.99 million cars.
Euro countries have seen economic confidence surge to a seven-month high in February, thanks to the expected European Central Bank monetary stimulus and a drop in oil prices. The ECB recently revised its euro-zone gross-domestic product growth forecast upward to 1.5 percent for 2015.
“The start of the year is clearly above expectations,” remarked Sascha Gommel, an analyst at Commerzbank AG. Gommel noted that the ECB’s interest-rate policy makes refinancing cheap and encourages consumers to purchase cars.
For this year, ACEA expects new car registrations to climb just 2 percent to around 13 million vehicles this year. All five of Europe’s largest auto markets posted gains in February, led by Spain. The Spanish government currently implements a scrappage program that has resulted to a 26-percent jump in sales in the month.
Italy and the United Kingdom posted 13-percent and 12-percent growths respectively, while Germany and France logged 6.6-percent and 4.5-percent gains, respectively. Among carmakers, Volkswagen Group leaped 12 percent in February, buoyed by 23-percent sale hike at its Seat brand and a 13-percent climb at its namesake brand.
According to a study by the Center Automotive Research at the University Duisburg-Essen, rebates by German car dealers surged in February, thanks to price cuts offered online.
Researchers Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer and Karsten Neuberger wrote in the study that VW models such like the VW Golf, Seat Leon and the Skoda Rapid were discounted by up to 30 percent by Internet dealers.