LONDON - New-car demand grew in Europe's biggest markets last month, though the fading effects of scrapping incentives depressed sales in Italy.
German sales rose an estimated 7.7 percent, according to the German car importers association. Industry sources say limited supplies of the VW Golf and Passat, Opel Astra, and Mercedes-Benz A-class held down total volume.
The order backlog at the end of April was 833,000 cars, according to the German automakers association. Normal levels are 300,000 to 350,000. The association forecast sales of 3.75 million units for the year, 6 percent above 1997.
Sales in France were up 14.1 percent in May. Both French carmakers outperformed the market. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen was up by 15.2 percent. Renault sales rose by 44.4 percent, benefiting from improved availability of the Megane and strong sales of the Kangoo and new Clio.
Italian sales are estimated to have fallen by 5.4 percent to 220,000.
Italian incentives are not expected to be extended after they expire on 31 July.