ACEA has reported that March new car registrations in the EU were 10.8% higher than in the same month of 2009.

Over the first quarter of 2010 registrations rose by 9.2% compared to the first three months of last year. Registrations fell by 9.4% compared to the first quarter of 2008.

ACEA said that most major markets recovered ground compared to early 2009, reflecting the ongoing effect of government incentive programmes.

In contrast, German registrations shrank by 26.6% to 294,375 units.

In total, 1,637,478 new cars were registered in the EU in March. The UK accounted for almost 400,000 new cars, or 26.6% more than in 2009, thereby becoming the largest EU market in March.

New registrations in Italy were up 19.6% and rose by 17.9% in France. Demand in Spain jumped by +63.1% compared to the low levels of 2009 (-38.7%), claiming fifth rank in absolute figures (124,756 units). Results in other European markets were mixed, with an increase by 40.6% in the Czech Republic and a drop by 53.3% in Hungary.

Over the first quarter of the year, 3,671,871 new passenger cars were registered in the EU, or 9.2% more than in the same quarter a year ago. Of the major markets, only Germany recorded negative results (-22.8%) while France (+16.9%), Italy (+23.3%), the UK (+27.3%) and Spain (+44.5%) all posted growth. In absolute figures, Germany ranked first (670,410 units), followed by Italy (666,231 units), the UK (611,548), France (594,720 units) and Spain (286,167 units).

arlier this month, JD Power reported that car sales in Western Europe grew by 12.2% in March over last year. However, the forecast firm also warned that the West European car market is set to weaken further as the effects of turned-off scrappage schemes work through.

JD Power said that despite a strongly positive year-on-year result in March it should be noted that the seasonally adjusted annualised rate of sales (SAAR) in Western Europe has weakened to 13.2m from the 14m rate in February 'indicating that the anticipated post-incentive market slowdown is starting to form'.

ANALYSIS: West Europe car sales 'set to weaken'