Business leaders in Europe will be hoping that a gradually improving economy - illustrated by growing momentum in the regions car market - will not be derailed by problems regarding Greeces national debt and position in the eurozone

Business leaders in Europe will be hoping that a gradually improving economy - illustrated by growing momentum in the region's car market - will not be derailed by problems regarding Greece's national debt and position in the eurozone

The EU's car market got off to a strong start in January with sales up 6.7% to just under a million units, according to data released by ACEA.

The European carmakers' trade association said that the EU car market recorded growth for the seventeenth consecutive month reaching almost 1m (999,157).

Looking at the largest markets, the increase in demand was driven mainly by significant growth recorded in Spain (+27.5%) and Italy (+10.9%), followed by the UK (+6.7%), France (+6.2%) and Germany (+2.6%). Substantial growth was also posted by the new EU member states (+4.6%) contributing to last month's positive outcome across the region.

The January sales result will please many in Europe's automotive sector who are hoping for the upturn this year to gather some momentum. Continued car market growth comes in spite of wider uncertainties for the European economy being generated by the EU's ongoing crisis with Greece and its debt position following the election of a new anti-austerity government there.

The forecasters at LMC Automotive recently revised up their forecast for the West European car market in 2015, which is now forecast to increase by 3% to 12.5m units. This, LMC said, reflects the impact of lower oil prices and an improved economic outlook in the region.

VW Group led the EU's car market with a market share of 25.5% (unchanged on a year ago) and sales up 6.8% to 254,699 units.

General Motors saw around 10,000 units wiped off its sales in January due to the withdrawal of Chevrolet. However, Opel/Vauxhall almost made up the gap; Opel/Vauxhall sales were up 15.9% to 62,684 units leaving all GM sales only down 2.8% for the month (at 62,684 units).

See also: Detailed LMC report of January Western European car sales with 2015 forecast