New European car sales up 12.9 percent in January

BRUSSELS: New car sales were up 12.9 percent across the European Union in January compared with a year earlier, benefiting from ongoing fleet renewal schemes, the European carmakers body said on Tuesday.

However, the bloc's biggest market, Germany, saw a decline of 4.3 percent, reflecting the end of incentives there.

Italy, Britain, Spain and France each saw big jumps in the number of new registrations there -- although compared with January 2008, before the full effects of the economic crisis kicked in, they were down across the bloc by 17.3 percent.

In total, 1,058,868 new cars were registered in the 28 nations covered by the data -- 25 EU members, not counting Cyprus and Malta, plus free-trade partners Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Italy posted the highest sales figures at 206,341, with Germany (181,189), France (171,478) and Britain (145,479) registering

The ACEA carmakers association noted that the figures were "influenced by the continuing effect of fleet renewal schemes in a number of Western European countries."