LONDON - New-car sales in western Europe rose 7.1 percent in July to an estimated 1,235,000, compared with the same month last year. Sales surged in France and Italy recorded its best July ever.
Italian customers rushed to place orders before government scrapping incentives ended on 31 July. The result was a record 254,500 registrations, 3.2 percent more than July 1997.
France rose 13.0 percent to 238,992 registrations. Market leader Renault performed slightly better than the total market. Several importers were up sharply, including Fiat (42.9 percent), Mercedes-Benz (37.9 percent) and Volvo (75.9 percent).
Sales in Germany were level with last year at 326,000 units, according to estimates. Waiting periods for popular models like the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 have been cut. Orders held by carmakers are down from a peak of 830,000 in April to 750,000 in July. German carmakers normally have an order backlog of about 500,000 units in August.
UK registrations rose 5.1 percent to 37,896. July is the UK's weakest month of the year on the eve of the August license-plate changeover.