European car sales increase for first time in 6 years

<p>Car sales in the European Union jumped by 5.7 per cent during 2014.</p>

The European car market has returned to growth for the first time in six years.

Figures from the industry trade association ACEA showed a 5.7 per cent increase in sales during 2014. It meant that 12,550,771 vehicles were sold in the past 12 months with the ACEA highlighting government scrappage schemes and wholesale business orders as being the main drivers for success.

December was a highly productive month for the automotive sector with European Union car registration jumping 4.7 per cent. It represented a 16th consecutive month of growth and allowed the yearly total to return to prominence for the first time since 2007. There were contrasting fortunes, however when it came to individual countries.

Spain and the UK led the way in terms of registrations, with the former achieving growth of 18.1 per cent while the latter reached 9.3 per cent over the course of the year. Other nations such as Germany and Italy had also performed positively but it was it was different story in France. A December decline of 6.7 per cent meant that it could only remain stable throughout the year with a small bump of 0.3 per cent.

Speaking to the BBC, Peter Fuss, automotive analyst for E&Y, said in a research note: "We remain cautious about the ability of new car sales to return to their pre-crisis levels by the end of this decade.

"Furthermore, car sharing and other alternative trends of urban mobility are expected to gain relevance in the market amid shifting consumer preference."

Earlier in the month, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that just under 2.5 million cars had been sold in the UK in the last year. The group stated that 2.47 million cars were registered in the British Isles in the past 12 months, representing a ten-year high. The Ford Fiesta continued its popularity selling 131,254 units.

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