BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — European car sales zoomed ahead in July and August, contrasting slow sales for most of the year in major car-buying nations and netting strong results for BMW AG, DaimlerChrysler AG, Fiat SpA and General Motors Corp.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said Friday that sales across Europe grew 7.4 percent in July from a year ago and 2.5 percent in August.
Western Europe sales increased for the first time all year in July, it said, as French, Italian and British drivers picked up a new set of keys. That trend did not keep pace in August as solid growth in Italy outweighed slipping sales in Britain, Germany, France and Spain.
Luxury carmakers did well. BMW AG racked up the fastest growth of sales from the same months last year, up 20.1 percent in July and 28.7 percent in August. DaimlerChrysler AG expanded sales — especially for its key brand, Mercedes, reporting an increase of 9.6 percent in July and 9.1 percent in August.
Italy's Fiat SpA kept up its comeback, buoyed by Italians' return to car showrooms, by reporting it had sold 8.5 percent new cars in July and 8.4 percent in August.
General Motors Corp. — which makes Opel and Saab cars — saw sales rise 9.5 percent in July and 10 percent in August.
Europe's largest carmaker, Volkswagen AG, did not enjoy the same surge, mainly due to lackluster results in its main market, Germany. Overall sales rose 2.5 percent in July and fell 0.7 percent in August.
France's Peugeot Citroen — Europe's No. 2 — saw the same problem. It grew sales by 8.8 percent in July while they shrank 4.5 percent in August.
Overall, some 1.35 million new cars were sold throughout Europe in July and 952,205 in August.