Toyota and Honda recorded the highest gains in a depressed European market in February.

According to Acea, registrations were down 3.2% in the compared to a year ago, largely because of the impact of a 15% fall in the German market caused by an increase in the rate of VAT there.

However, Toyota registrations increased 11.4% to 61,936 units, giving it a 6.0% share of the market, up from 5.4% a year ago. Honda sales were up 19% to 17,117 units, raising its share from 1.4% to 1.7%.

Renault suffered the most during the month with a 13.2% fall in registrations to 83,880 units, meaning the group lost one percentage point market share. Renault has put its recent poor performance down to preparations for a new model offensive later this year with the arrival of the Twingo in June and the Laguna in the autumn.

Results amongst European manufacturers were mixed. The VW group maintained its ground and outperformed the market with sales down 0.9% to 191,426 units. However, the Volkswagen brand was down over 7%, while all the other brands recorded growth – even Seat (+1.8%).

Europe’s second largest manufacturer group after VW, PSA, recorded a 6.1% dip in sales, while Ford sales were up 3.3%. GM’s sales were fairly flat compared to a year ago (-1.9%).

DaimlerChrysler and BMW both recorded big declines of 8.2% and 10.1% respectively.