Sales of cars in France rose by 0.9 percent in July.
It was the first increase in nearly two years, and perhaps a sign demand may finally be stabilising in one of the markets worst hit by Europe’s sustained car sales slump.
New models and discounts from dealers brought more customers into the showrooms, but the spokesman for the manufacturers believes it is still going to be a difficult year:
François Roudier of the Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles said: “We are happy sales have stopped plummeting. They’ve hit the lowest point and are starting to recover. But realistically sales this year will be the worst since the crisis the French industry suffered in 1997-1998.”
The upturn was helped by an additional sales day compared with July last year.
In the first seven months of the year registrations were down 9.7 percent from the same period in 2012.
For all of this year the carmakers’ association predicts an eight percent decline.
France’s largest carmaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, saw its domestic sales edge 0.9 percent higher last month, thanks in large part to better-than-expected sales of its new 2008 compact SUV – one of the few categories of vehicle showing consistent European growth.
Renault’s competing Captur helped the carmaker deliver a 4.7 percent increase in registrations, also bolstered by a 6.1 percent gain for the group’s no-frills Dacia brand.
Toyota surging 24 percent.
Including French van sales, which rose 2.7 percent in July, overall registrations posted a 1.2 percent gain for the month and a 9.4 percent decline for the year so far.