European carmakers see 2 straight months of growth as pent-up demand releases

MILAN – The European car market may have seen the bottom.

The European carmaker’s association on Tuesday released figures showing a second consecutive month of sales growth for the first time since September 2011.

Passenger car sales last month in the European Union rose 4.7 per cent to just over 1 million units, with Italy the only major market to register a decrease, the 26th straight monthly contraction.

While the boost in car sales in September was due to the effect of two additional calendar days, October’s sales increase was based on the same number of business days.

“This seems to indicate that, effectively, car markets throughout Europe have reached such a low point that a certain level of natural replacement is now at play,” said Carlos Da Silva, an analyst at IHS Automotive.

He called the news “welcome” indicating “the end of the tunnel is near.”

Still, there remains reason for caution: Despite the month-on-month increase, October sales were still the second-lowest for the month in the decade since the association started compiling statistics.

For the first 10 months of the year, sales were down 3 per cent.

In Italy, the car market shrank 5.6 per cent last month to 110,841 units, and was down 8 per cent for the 10 months through October to 1.1 million cars. That’s in contrast with Great Britain and Spain, which are now showing positive growth on the year after posting October unit sales increases of 4 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively.