Registrations of new cars in the EU posted strong growth in March, up 6% to 1.7 million units and marking the 31st consecutive month of growth – according to Motortrader.com.
The online motor publication said the performance in volume terms was close to March 2007 levels, just before the financial meltdown in 2009.
Registrations were driven by a cocktail of strong sales incentives for dealers and heavy discounting.
Among the major markets, Italy (+17.4%) recorded the strongest performance, followed by France (+7.5%) and the UK (+5.3%).
The Spanish (-0.7%) and German (-0.04%) markets were hit by fewer sales days as this year Easter fell in March, reducing the number of sales days. In 2015 Easter fell in April.
In the first quarter of 2016, new passenger car registrations increased by 8.2% to 3,819,269 units.
All major markets posted growth, including Italy (+20.8%), followed by France (+8.2%), Spain (+6.9%), the UK (+5.1%) and Germany (+4.5%).
Jaguar turned in the strongest performance in March with registrations up 70.9% to 8,611 units, followed by Lexus (+28.9%), Smart (+22.9%), Land Rover (+19.6%), Lancia Chrysler (+16.7%)
Those brands in negative territory included Mitsubishi (-6.1%), DS (-5.3%), Nissan (-3.6%), Volkswagen (-1.6%) and Hyundai (-1.2%).