Italian new car sales bounced back slightly in May, after 12 consecutive months of decline, the country's Transport Ministry said.
Sales totaled 170,603 units, up 3.58 percent from the year before.
Italy's biggest carmaker, Fiat S.p.A., saw May sales rise 4.6 percent to 51,342 units.
Italy's sales rebound came after sales had been in decline following the end of government scrappage subsidies in March 2010. Federauto, the federation of Italian car dealers, called the May upturn "illusory," since it included thousands of vehicles which were self-registered by automakers and dealers to reach the set sales targets, but not sold to customers.
Despite a rise in May sales, new vehicle orders in the month were at an historical low of 157,00 new orders -- "the lowest since 1998" -- ANFIA and UNRAE automakers associations said.
UNRAE, which represents foreign automakers, forecasts Italian sales declining another 8 percent to 1.81 million units this year, from 1.96 million in 2010 and 2.16 million in 2009.
An overall sales fall this year would represent the fourth consecutive decline in yearly Italian sales since they peaked at an historical high of 2.49 million units in 2007.
French car sales fell 8.3 percent in May on an adjusted basis to 197,784 registrations, industry association CCFA said on Wednesday, as for the second month in row sales figures reflected the end of government incentives to replace old models.
France's scrapping incentive scheme ran out in December 2010, but consumers who bought cars as part of the scheme could register them until the end of March 2011.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn also told a French newspaper on Tuesday that sales of Renault cars were being affected too by supply disruptions to some car parts manufactured in the areas hit by the Japanese earthquake.
Ghosn told Le Parisien: "We underestimated the vigor of the French market after the scrapping scheme. We also have difficulties with some Japanese suppliers. I think this impact will be limited to the second quarter of this year."
Group sales at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA rose 12.5 percent in May while Renault group sales dropped 18.2 percent.
On an unadjusted basis, French sales were up 6.2 percent in May when there were three more working days this year compared with May 2010. In the first five months, sales rose 4.4 percent in unadjusted terms and 1.5 percent on a like-for-like basis to 1.015 million cars, the association said.
French consumer spending slumped in April, national statistics office said earlier in the week, hit by a steep fall in car purchases after the subsidies were phased out.
Sales of new cars in Spain fell 23.3 percent in May to 78,870 units over 2010 figures, carmakers association (ANFAC) said Wednesday, the eleventh straight month of falls after the removal of government subsidies last July.
"The fall in sales in the last three years and the boom in cheap cars has taken car fleets back to levels last seen 15 years ago," said Juan Antonio Sanchez Torres, head of Spanish car showroom association Ganvam.
Domestic spending remains weak in Spain, held back by high debt and unemployment.
Belgium auto registrations rose 15 percent to 54,888 units in May.
Sources: Reuters, with contributions from Luca Ciferri