European sales of new cars grow at fastest pace for four years

More than 900,000 cars were sold in December, but total for 2013 was lowest for 18 years, figures show

Europe’s car industry showed further signs of improvement in December, with sales of new cars growing at the fastest pace in four years, although sales in 2013 overall were the lowest in 18 years.

A total of 906,294 new cars were sold last month, 13.3% more than in December 2012. It was the fourth month in a row in which car sales rose on an annual basis.

Sales were down 1.7% over 2013 as a whole, however, marking the sixth year of decline for a European car industry battered by a crash in demand amid the eurozone’s crisis.

The figures from the ACEA show Europe’s car industry still has a long way to go before sales recover to pre-crisis levels. In 2013, 11.85m new cars were sold – the lowest number since 1995.

The UK has persistently outperformed the broader European car market in recent months, and new car sales there rose 10.8% in 2013.

Outside the UK, Spain was the only country to achieve growth in new car sales last year. They rose 3.3% as a result of a state-backed car scrappage scheme.

In December alone, however, it was a different story, with sales up in all major European economies including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, as well as the UK.

Allan Rushforth, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor Europe, said progress in the European car industry would be slow.

“Many European markets are over the worst of the economic crisis, but recovery will be slow, particularly in the first quarter. Recovering economies will fuel consumer confidence, helping a brand like Hyundai to achieve its qualitative targets and providing a firmer basis for profitability.” © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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