New-car registrations in Europe rose 5 percent in April with mass-market carmakers Renault, Ford, Opel and PSA Peugeot Citroen showing stronger growth than premium brands, writes Trish Whelan.
Registrations in the EU and EFTA markets increased to 1.13 million vehicles from 1.08 million a year earlier. Four-month sales gained 7 percent to 4.48 million.
The April sales increase is the eight consecutive month of higher year-on-year demand with sales boosted by discounts offered by carmakers and by car owners re-newing ageing vehicles.
Renault gained 16 percent in April, Ford 9 percent, 7 percent at Opel/Vauxhall, and 5 percent at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, though the industry increase was held back by a decline at the namesake brand of market leader Volkswagen.
Renault's no-frills Dacia brand, which has revamped the Duster SUV and Sandero hatchback, posted a 34 percent surge while the Renault brand sold 9 percent more cars. European sales at the Peugeot marque rose 6 percent, with demand at the Citroen division increasing 4 percent.
Group sales by Volkswagen were up by 4 percent. Jumps of 22 percent at the Skoda brand, and 6 percent at the SEAT brand offset a 1 percent slide at the VW marque, which is revising its mid-sized Passat saloon later this year. The Audi luxury division posted a 1 percent sales gain.
General Motors' Opel/Vauxhall division sold 7 percent more cars in Europe in April while Fiat's European sales rose 2 percent in April. BMW sold 1 percent more cars in Europe - however Mini sales dropped by 11 percent. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz division posted a 2 percent increase.
Germany, Europe's largest market, was the only country among the top five in the region to post a decline last month.