New-car sales rose in Germany and France in January, but suffered steep declines in Spain and Italy.
German automotive association VDA said car sales rose 17 percent last month compared with the year-earlier period, driven by strong domestic demand and increasing appetite for diesel vehicles.
The VDA said sales in Germany rose to 211,100 cars in January. It expects more than 3 million new car registrations in Germany by the end of 2011. Domestic new orders for passenger cars made by German carmakers rose 29 percent year-on-year in January, the highest January level since 2001.
"German car manufacturers have got off to a dynamic start in 2011," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement on Wednesday. "Domestic demand is increasing," he added.
Domestic sales of diesel cars rose by 40 percent. More than 53 percent of all new cars manufactured by German carmakers were powered by diesel. The VDA also said the export market for German cars grew 10 percent to 312,800 cars.