German new car registrations in March are expected to rise over year-ago levels, helped by significant new model launches, the auto industry association, VDA, said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

 “New car registrations in March should at least come in above last year’s level,” VDA chief Bernd Gottschalk told a news conference, adding that this would still be the case even if this March’s two extra working days were allowed for.

This month’s increase in new car registrations would be the first this year, after a two percent decline in February and a 12 percent plunge in January, Reuters said.

The VDA president saw no reason to amend his forecast of 3.35 million new car registrations for Germany this year. New car sales totalled 3.24 million in 2003, down 0.5 percent on the previous year, the Reuters report added.

“Institutes and automotive experts are tending more to move toward our forecasts,” he said.

Gottschalk said he expected the industry’s outlook to improve step by step during the year, as new models hitting the market lead to a rise in orders.