European Car Sales Rise as Economy Helps Peugeot, Toyota

(Bloomberg) -- European car sales jumped 5.8 percent last month as new SUVs from French automakers Peugeot and Citroen as well as Asian rivals attracted buyers amid accelerating economic growth.

Registrations increased to 1.26 million vehicles from 1.19 million a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said Thursday in a statement. Eleven-month sales gained 4 percent percent to 14.5 million autos.

The region is set for the highest annual delivery volume in a decade, cementing a comeback from the global recession and sovereign debt crises in some European Union countries that plagued the car market for years. The EU raised third-quarter gross domestic product growth figures a week ago, while unemployment in the countries sharing the euro is at a nine-year low, encouraging consumer and business spending on autos, especially roomier sport utility vehicles.

“The crisis has been overcome, and in the coming year demand can continue upward,” Peter Fuss, a partner at consultant EY, said in a statement. “Economic growth prospects are good,” and “interest rates remain low, making auto financing terms attractive.”

SUV Focus

Demand for SUVs has prompted producers from Volkswagen AG to luxury-vehicle producers such as Rolls-Royce and Ferrari NV to add them to their lineups. Sales growth last month was focused on companies offering new or recently updated versions of the rugged models.

PSA Group’s Citroen brand, which began deliveries of the C3 Aircross compact SUV in previous months, posted a 15 percent surge in European deliveries in November, while its Peugeot nameplate sold 20 percent more vehicles, buoyed by demand for the 3008 and 5008 crossovers. French competitor Renault SA posted a 10 percent groupwide gain in the region, with models such as the Logan MCV Stepway crossover helping sales at the low-cost Dacia division surge 25 percent.

Toyota, the world’s second-biggest carmaker and the eighth-largest in Europe, increased sales in the region by 12 percent, boosted by the compact C-HR. European demand at Kia Motors Corp. jumped 13 percent after the Seoul-based manufacturer introduced the Stonic small SUV in the region.

The ACEA figures comprise registrations in the 28 European Union countries, excluding Malta, as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Among the top five markets, November sales gains in Germany, France, Italy and Spain exceeded the regionwide growth rate, while demand in the U.K. plunged 11 percent amid lingering customer concerns about the nation’s terms for exiting the EU.

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