UK car sales rose 9% in July
UK new-car sales rose for a fifth consecutive month in July in contrast to other major European markets, which saw demand drop.
UK registrations grew by 9.3 percent to 143,884 vehicles, the strongest monthly rise this year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement on Monday. Seven-month sales rose 3.5 percent to 1.20 million in comparison with last year's level, the SMMT added.
The industry group said the data showed sales were showing resilience in the face of recession and added it was revising upward its forecast for full-year sales to 1.97 million units from a forecast of 1.94 million in April. In February, the SMMT predicted full-year sales would dip to 1.92 million this year from 1.94 million in 2011.
But in a note of caution, SMMT CEO Paul Everitt said he still expected demand to slow slightly in the rest of the year when compared with the year to date.
"International economic stability remains a concern for vehicle manufacturers and the UK market," he said.
Most major brands saw sales rise last month. Registrations of General Motors' Vauxhall brand rose more than 11 percent, Ford sales were up 1.5 percent, Audi sales rose 13.1 percent and Mercedes-Benz demand grew by 11.1 percent.
Brands that lost sales last month included the VW brand, which fell by 1.5 percent and BMW, which fell 9.4 percent.
Falling European markets
Germany, Italy, Spain and France all posted declines in vehicle sales last month, according to official data.
In Germany, the region's largest single market, registrations fell 5 percent to 247,860 compared with a year earlier, a slower decline than in other major European markets. In the first seven months, sales reached 1.88 million -- roughly flat compared with last year's period, Germany's federal transport agency said in a statement last week.
Italian car sales fell 21.3 percent in July to 108,826, Italy's Transport Ministry said. High fuel prices and a shrinking economy are keeping Italians away from showrooms. In June, car sales dropped 24.4 percent.
This year is shaping up to be even worse than 2011, when Italian car sales fell 10.8 percent to 1.74 million cars, dropping for the fourth year in a row.
Spain, one of the countries worst hit by Europe's debt crisis, posted a further 17-percent drop in car sales last month. Consumer registrations in the country have now been in uninterrupted decline for more than two years, industry body ANFAC said.
French registrations fell 7 percent, the ninth straight monthly decline, and a "poor result" despite two more sales days than in July 2011, the French CCFA automakers' association said.
Reuters contributed to this report
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