The German car market appears to be reviving with sales up 20% year on year last month.

According to the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), 318,000 cars were sold last month, the highest April figure for eight years.

In the first four months of 2008, 1.05m cars were sold, up 7% year on year. Last year’s results were dragged down by the introduction of a new higher rate of value-added tax on 1 January. The market failed to recover from that amid further discussion and insecurity over the introduction of a new CO2 related ownership tax.

Nevertheless, much of the growth appears to be in the fleet sector. According to importers trade association Verband der Internationalen Kraftfahrzeughersteller (VDIK), growth in demand from private buyers was limited.

Data from the vehicle licensing agency, the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamts (KBA), shows that, of the premium vehicle manufacturers, BMW/Mini benefited most from the growth. Its sales were up 27.7%. Mercedes-Benz sales were up 26.1%, while Audi was up 9.1%.

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Of the volume makes, Ford sales were up 42.1% and Opel was up 25.5%. Hyundai sales grew strongly (+27.9%) and Fiat saw sales rise 26.3%.

But Honda and Toyota were losers with sales down 18.6% and 16.9% respectively.