There has been renewed optimism lately on prospects for car sales in the EU, though risks remain

There has been renewed optimism lately on prospects for car sales in the EU, though risks remain

Car sales in the EU continued their long and gradual recovery in February with the market up 7.3% on last year.

European carmakers' association ACEA said that February's 7.3% gain to 924,440 units marked the eighteenth consecutive month of rising sales. The latest data confirmed that issued earlier this month for Western Europe by LMC Automotive that showed sales up by 7.6%.

All major national markets contributed positively to the overall expansion in February, especially Spain (+26.1%), Italy (+13.2%) and the UK (+12.0%) posting double-digit growth, followed by Germany (+6.6%) and France (+4.5%).

In the first two months of the year EU car sales increased by 7.0%, totalling almost 2m units (1,923,484). Most major markets posted growth, contributing to the overall upturn of the EU market. Germany (+4.6%), France (+5.3%), the UK (+8.3%), Italy (+12.3%) and Spain (+26.7%) increased over this period.

Analysts have lately taken a more upbeat view of car demand trends in Europe, with optimism rising due to the age of the European car parc (suggesting growing renewal demand) and some upturn in prospects for the European economy in 2015. LMC forecasts that the West European car market will rise by 4.2% this year to 12.6m units.

However, analysts also note that significant risks remain to Europe's recovering car market. In particular, the eurozone faces structural economic issues presented by large public debt problems in countries such as Greece and the continuing weakness of Russia's economy presents a problem to automakers who have previously banked on high growth of volume there.

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ANALYSIS: Europe's fragile recovery continues