Car price discounts drive up European sales by 9.2% in 2015

VW BADGE ON CAR Image copyright PA
Image caption VW's sales rise lagged the market trend

European car sales reached 14.2 million last year, but still remained below levels prior to the economic crisis.

The 9.2% increase was driven in large part by incentive schemes, according to the Brussels-based trade body, the Association of European Carmakers.

Several manufacturers achieved double digit growth, including Daimler (17.7%) and Fiat-Chrysler (13.6%).

Amid the emissions row, Volkswagen's sales climbed only 6.2% and the group's market share slid from 25.5% to 24.8%.

The annual figures were boosted by a strong December when sales jumped 15.9% to nearly 1.16 million, marking the 28th consecutive month of growth.

The figures include all European Union members except Malta, and the three European Free Trade Association countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Sales grew strongly in Spain (20.9%) and Italy (15.8%) in 2015, helped by government incentive schemes to encourage buyers. Sales also rose in the other major markets of France (6.8%), the UK (6.3%) and Germany (5.6%).

Car sales in the EU and and the wider EFTA free trade area reached a peak of nearly 16 million in 2007. They subsequently fell to a low of just over 12.3 million in 2013 before rising again in 2014.

The association said the trend last year was "positive, but in absolute terms, volumes remain low".

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