FRANKFURT -- Germany continued to buck to the downward trend in major European markets with new-car sales rising 8.1 percent to 280,689 in September.
In the first nine months sales increased 10.8 percent to 2.4 million compared with the same period the year before, the KBA federal registrations agency said on Wednesday.
"This pleasing result stemmed from a 5 percent increase in private registrations and a 15 percent increase in commercial registrations," said the VDIK German auto importers association.
High-margin large vans, sports utility vehicles and luxury sedans fuelled demand. The KBA said there were slower sales of small cars popular during a subsidy-induced boom, down 14 percent in the first nine months in a market that grew 11 percent.
Among the biggest winners in September were Volkswagen with a 17 percent gain and its luxury brand Audi with a 20 percent jump. Porsche gained 64 percent while Ford increased sales by a fifth.
By comparison sales of Japanese carmakers Suzuki , Mitsubishi , Subaru and Mazda fell sharply. The strength of the yen could not be blamed since Nissan and Honda both posted strong months.
Other data provided by Germany's automotive industry group VDA showed production growth lagged new registrations in September, suggesting half of new sales were imports and implying German domestic demand was stimulating economic activity in other countries.
German auto exports climbed by 6 percent in September, slightly below the previous year-to-date figure, but the VDA said foreign demand held up well as new orders from abroad increased 11 percent.
"Growth is slowing down somewhat, but we are already clearly above the level of the previous record year from 2007 and will achieve a new export record in 2011," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement, adding German production plants were running almost flat out.
"It's now crucial that governments and central banks worldwide get control of the turbulence in financial markets, impose convincing regulatory concepts and confront the debt crisis with credible austerity plans. That is the only way to prevent erratic financial markets from infecting the real economy," Wissmann said.