There were signs of growth at last in European car sales last month with surges in two of the biggest markets, France and Germany.

Number one market, Germany, grew 18.3% to 237,500 vehicles, a rate almost twice that posted in the preceding months, according to the auto importers' association VDIK.

This pushed the year-to-date increase to 11.2% through August from 10.4% a month earlier.

This follows 2010's record low volume of 2.92m vehicles, the first year after the government subsidised new car sales with a EUR5bn (US$7.1bn) scrappage scheme that ended in September 2009.

VDIK president Volker Lange said he expects the positive trend will continue, "albeit at a slightly softer level".

New car registrations in France rose 3.2% year on year in August following two months of declines.

For the first eight months of this year, sales rose 0.4% over 2010 to 1.49m vehicles.

A 5.7% fall in July and 13% in June  reflected the end of the French government’s scrapping incentives that benefited the local manufacturers at the end of last year.

Earlier this year, industry association CCFA, was projecting an 8% contraction of the French market for the full year. Renault said in July it expects the local market, which contributes a large portion of sales and profit, to fall by between 4% and 6% this year.