Brussels (MunichNOW News/dpa) – New car sales in Europe increased in January for a fifth consecutive month, data released Tuesday showed, as the continent’s automobile industry slowly recovers from a sharp downturn.

Registrations in the European Union increased by 5.5 per cent year-on-year to 935,640, according to the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Among carmakers, the Volkswagen Group's flagship VW brand reported an 8.2-per-cent increase, while its French rivals, PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, posted gains of 7.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively. -- photo: dpa
Among carmakers, the Volkswagen Group’s flagship VW brand reported an 8.2-per-cent increase, while its French rivals, PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, posted gains of 7.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively. — photo: dpa

However, sales remained weak, with the monthly total equivalent to the second-lowest recorded for the month of January over the last decade.

Sales nevertheless picked up in all of the region’s biggest markets, with registrations increasing by 7.6 per cent in Britain and Spain, 7.2 per cent in Germany, 3.2 per cent in Italy and 0.5 per cent in France.

The biggest upswings were in some of the countries that had been at the centre of the eurozone’s debt crisis: Registrations in Ireland shot up 32.8 per cent, while Portugal saw a 31.8-per-cent increase.

The only countries to post a drop in sales were Austria, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Estonia and Belgium.

Among carmakers, the Volkswagen Group’s flagship VW brand reported an 8.2-per-cent increase, while its French rivals, PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, posted gains of 7.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively.

The world’s biggest carmaker, Japan’s Toyota, also reported a healthy 16.8-per-cent jump in EU registrations in the first month of 2014.

Sales of the Fiat group’s namesake brand fell 2.9 per cent, while registrations of General Motors’ embattled European offshoot, Opel, also dropped by 7.6 per cent.

Luxury carmakers saw less positive results too, with premium brand BMW posting an increase in registrations of only 0.5 per cent and Mercedes seeing a rise of just 0.7 per cent.

But VW’s premium brand, Audi, saw sales grow by a healthy 9.5 per cent, while Toyota’s Lexus brand gained 25.7 per cent.