> European new car sales stats (Source: ACEA)
In May, demand for new cars in the EU increased for the ninth consecutive month, with a rise of 4.5% in registrations.
However, in absolute figures, the total of 1,093,448 units registered marked the second lowest result to date for the month of May since the European automotive organisation ACEA began reporting in 2003 on the enlarged EU.
Five months into the year, new passenger car registrations increased by 6.9%, totalling 5,431,921 units.
In May, Italy was the only major market to face a downturn (-3.8%). All other significant markets contributed positively to the overall 4.5% expansion of the EU market, with growth ranging from +0.3% in France, +5.2% in Germany, +7.7% in the UK to +16.9% in Spain.
From January to May, all major markets posted growth, contributing to the overall 6.9% upturn of the EU market. The increase in passenger car registrations in this period ranged from 3% in France, 3.2% in Italy, 3.4% in Germany to 11.6% in the UK and 16.3% in Spain.
Among the top 10 car sellers in Europe, registrations at third-ranked Renault jumped the most in May, at 18%, with gains of 9.5% at market leader Volkswagen Group and 4% at second-place PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.
Dacia reported a 24% growth in European sales last month.
Sales jumped 23% last month for Skoda, helped by a new version of the Octavia compact car, and 22% at Seat.
Registrations for VW and Audi rose 5%.
Opel/Vauxhall sales rose 6% in May. GM's group registrations in Europe dropped 7% as Chevrolet is being withdrawn from the region.
Ford sales fell 3% and for Fiat Group with Fiat brand registrations down 4.5%, Alfa Romeo down 20% and Lancia 2%.
Asian brands had mixed results with registrations up 10% at Nissan and 2% at Toyota. Kia sales rose 4%, while volume at Hyundai was down 3%.
BMW Group posted a 2.5% decline in group European sales. Mini's 18% slump overwhelmed a 1% gain for the BMW marque.
Sales by Mercedes-Benz rose 6%. Smart registrations fell 16%.
Four of Europe's five biggest markets kept growing in May, with gains of 5% in Germany.
Discounting in Germany eased last month, with cuts narrowing to an average 11.3% off the recommended price from 11.6% a year earlier, according to trade publication Autohaus Puls.
Europe's car market is recovering from a two-decade low reached in 2013. Industry executives are predicting growth in regional auto demand of 2% - 3% this year.
Consumer confidence in the euro area rose in May to the highest since October 2007, according to figures released last month.