Western European car sales rose 6.6 percent last month on a rebounding southern Europe, strong German growth and a UK market not yet affected by Brexit.
Passenger car registrations increased to 1.4 million in September, based on registrations data collated by LMC Automotive. The growth represents a seasonally adjusted selling rate of 14.48 million cars per year, LMC said, up 4.1 percent on August's 13.91 million. Nine-month sales are up 5.8 percent to 14.47 million.
"September saw the strongest selling rate this year for the West European car market, with ongoing expansion in all Big Five markets," said LMC analyst Emiliano Lewis. He said there was little sign so far that the UK market had been adversely affected by the country's vote in June to leave the European Union
LMC said Germany, Europe's biggest market, continues to strengthen after September sales increased by 9.4 percent. For the first nine months the market was up 6.1 percent and full-year sales are course to reach nearly 3.4 million.
Italy is set to be a key growth market in the next few years, LMC said. The market will be boosted by an improving economic outlook, as well as a large number of older cars on the road that will need replacing. Sales in Italy grew by 17 percent last month and the annualized selling rate was just over 1.8 million, in line with the full-year forecast, LMC said.
The Spanish market maintained its momentum despite the ending in July of a scrappage incentives program to encourage owners to replace older cars with new ones. Sales rose 14 percent in Spain last month. The market has been helped by rental companies renewing their fleets in response to a strong tourist season, LMC said.
French new-car sales rose 2.5 percent in September with most automakers except PSA Group making sales gains
The UK saw vehicle sales rise 1.6 percent last month and the market appears unaffected by the Brexit vote, with registrations shaping up for a record year in 2016, LMC said. The selling rate was just under 2.7 million.
However, LMC predicts that a UK market downtown toward the end of the decade due to the weakness of the pound and an economic slowdown over the next few years
The UK will slow growth at the wider western European region though growth in markets such as Italy and Spain should see the region in positive growth territory in 2017, the forecasters said.
LMC forecasts that western European sales will grow by 5.9 percent to 13.97 million this year and by 1.4 percent to 14.16 million next year.
Reuters contributed to this report