Recovery hopes are fuelled as European car sales rev up

MORE encouraging signs of Europe's economic recovery have appeared as the Continent's car manufacturers reported annual growth for only the second time this year.

A 4.8 per cent year-on-year rise in new car sales, to 1.02 million was reported by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). "The positive July result … is a good start for the stabilisation we expect in the second half," the VDA's president, Matthias Wissmann, said.

On Thursday, figures for April to June showed that the 17 eurozone members had emerged from an 18-month recession.

Europe's car market is still on course to shrink for a fourth successive year, plumbing depths not seen in 20 years. Sales over the first seven months of 2013 fell by 5.2 per cent, but they have started to recover. Year on year comparisons with a weak end to 2012 could also become easier in the second half of this year.

"The emerging economic recovery in western Europe appears to be reflected in the development of car demand," Mr Wissmann added, taking cause for confidence from double-digit gains in austerity-hit Spain, Portugal and Greece.

An extra working day in Germany helped to lift domestic sales slightly in July but underlying sales fell 2.3 per cent.