FRANKFURT -- New-car registrations rose 2.1 percent in Europe last month even though major brands such as Volkswagen, Opel, and Peugeot posted lower sales.
Sales in the EU and EFTA markets were 1.11 million in February helped by a 6.2 percent rise in sales in Italy and a 0.2 percent gain in Spain, industry association ACEA said in a statement on Thursday.
Volkswagen Group's sales declined by 1.5 percent with the core VW brand's volume down 7 percent. PSA Group's registrations fell 3 percent with Peugeot's volume down 3.7 percent while demand for Citroen vehicles rose by 1.8 percent.
Opel/Vauxhall sales were down 1.2 percent while demand for Ford models fell 2.3 percent.
• Download PDF, above right, for sales by automaker, brand and market
Among the top gainers was Fiat, with an 8.3 percent rise and Renault, which saw a 5.3 percent increase in registrations.
Among the premium brands, Mercedes-Benz's volume gained 3.4 percent, outpacing rival Audi, which saw a 2.2 percent rise. BMW's registrations fell 0.5 percent.
Asian brands gain
Demand for Asian brands was up as Toyota sales jumped 20 percent and Nissan's volume gained 3 percent. Kia sales rose 11 percent, ahead of Hyundai volume, which was up 0.7 percent.
Through February, sales in the EU and EFTA markets rose 6.1 percent to 2.31 million, ACEA said.
After a 10 percent jump in January, European car-sales growth is cooling as political uncertainty clouds the area’s economic outlook and the market becomes increasingly saturated after three years of expansion.
Europe’s three biggest markets all posted sales declines in February, typically a weak month.
Volume fell 2.6 percent in Germany, the No. 1 market. The UK, the second-biggest market, posted a 0.3 percent dip in sales in what may be the start of a Brexit-induced slowdown.
Sales decreased by 2.9 percent in France, where a surge of populism ahead of a two-round presidential election concluding in May is adding to the region’s political jitters.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report