For the first time in 11 months, new car registrations in Europe rose as demand from consumers in France and Germany fueled sales of automakers, including General Motors Co.’s Opel unit and Volkswagen AG.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said that registrations in the region surged to 1.01 million vehicles in February 2011, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier.
GM sold 8.3 percent more cars and sales by VW rose 9.1 percent. Meanwhile, Fiat S.p.A., Ford Motor Co. and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA all lost sales compared with the same period in 2010.
Demand in Germany and France, the European Union’s two largest markets, expanded 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively. The association said that new registrations dropped 21 percent in Italy, 28 percent in Spain and 7.7 percent in the United Kingdom.
Renault S.A., Fiat, PSA and VW are several carmakers that have been attempting to attract customers with cheaper financing, price cuts or free options as government incentives expired during the economic recovery.
State assistance has helped European manufacturers avoid factory closures on a scale seen in the United States. Europe’s largest carmaker, VW sold 226,126 units for a market share of 22 percent, including the Skoda, Audi and Seat brands.
By 2018, VW aims to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s number one carmaker. Renault, which has plans to sell its Dacia vehicles online, gained 3.1 percent to 113,342 cars. PSA sold 141,894 vehicles, 5 percent fewer than the year before. Fiat deliveries declined 17 percent to 76,808, including Alfa Romeo and Lancia cars.