European car registrations reached 1.7m units in March 2016, up 6% on the same month 2015, according to European Automobile Manufacturer Association (ACEA) figures.

The association added that this figure was ‘close’ to March 2007 levels, just before the economic crisis hit the automotive industry.

As a result, total EU registrations for Q1 were up 8.2% year-on-year to 3,819,269. All of the ‘Big Five’ economies (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK) posted growth over the period.

In March, Spanish and German car sales fell by 0.7% and 0.04% year-on-year, which the ACEA was potentially due to an early Easter, which would have reduced the number of sales days compared to March 2015.

The UK (+5.3%), France (+7.5%), and Italy (+17.4%) all recorded growth.


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While Volkswagen remained the largest brand by sales in the month, with 175,025 vehicles sold, this was 1.6% less than the number sold in March 2015. Overall VW Group figures were up 2.6% for the month.

BMW experienced strong growth in March – up 15.6% to 91,718. This meant it overtook fellow German OEM Mercedes which sold 87,794 in the month, up 10.3%.

Fiat and Renault also recorded double digit growth in the month, growing by 14.5% and 10.4% respectively.