Western Europe car sales data issued by JD Power Automotive Forecasting shows that the market was down by just 0.6% in February, helped by particularly strong sales in Germany.

JD Power said that the selling rate for Western Europe in the month was nearly 13.9m units – the highest result since February 2010 - and that underlying car demand is picking up well.

Car sales in Germany last month were up by 15.2% reflecting the continued strong performance of the German economy.

Elsewhere it February presented a mixed picture with the French car market continuing to benefit from last year's scrappage scheme – it was up by 13.7% - but sales were down 7.7% in UK and off by 27.6% in Spain and 21% in Italy.

More: Germany drives the European car market up this year