European cars sales remain lacklustre. New car registrations were up in April, but that was a statistical quirk because Easter was a month earlier this year.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association, which compiles the data, said that: “in April, most European countries benefited from two to three additional working days, which helped the majority of markets post a growth in new car registrations despite the US financial crisis and further increases in fuel prices”.
New car registrations in April jumped 9.6% to 1.42 million vehicles. That made up for a 9.5% drop in March. In the first four months of this year registrations rose 1%, almost almost entirely thanks to growth in the new EU markets in Eastern Europe.
There was a recovery in registrations in Germany and Volkswagen posted an 11% in sales, while BMW sold 25% more vehicles than in the same month last year.
Italians, the continent’s second-biggest car buyers, stayed away from showrooms with a weakening economic outlook and an end to government incentives for drivers to scrap older cars. And even in Eastern Europe the brisk pace of car sales slowed in April, despite the region’s dynamic growth.