Business

European car sales return to growth after six years

Row of VW cars in Berlin Image copyright Reuters

Car sales in the European Union rose in 2014 for the first time in six years, according to the industry trade association ACEA.

Sales were up 5.7% to 12,550,771, fuelled by government scrappage schemes and wholesale orders from companies.

There was also a shift in sales to cheaper brands, with Dacia and Skoda reporting some of the biggest sales rises.

Spain and the UK saw a sales jump in 2014, up 18% and 9.3% respectively.

The ACEA said in a statement that in December sales rose 4.7% year-on-year, the 16th consecutive monthly rise.

However, the industry remains cautious about growth this year, as many incentive schemes and tax breaks are being ended.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan-Renault, said this week at the Detroit Motor Show that he expects European growth this year to be slow, at around 1%-2%.

Peter Fuss, an automotive analyst at business services group E&Y, said in a research note on Friday that he expected 2015 sales to be about 3% higher.

He said: "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."

In Spain, the government has repeatedly extended an incentive scheme, known as Plan PIVE, which offers price cuts on new low-emission vehicles.

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