New car registrations in the European Union fell 1.7% in 2013, largely thanks to a sales slump in Italy and France.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said11.8 million new cars were sold across the region, about 200,000 fewer than in the previous year.
But the decline was much less than the 8.2% fall recorded in 2012 – the sector’s worst result for 18 years.
Italy’s new car sales fell 7.1%, while France’s fell 5.7%.
Struggling French manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen continued its decline, with sales falling 8.4%. But Renault bucked the French trend, achieving a 4.4% rise in sales.
Italy’s Fiat, which recently took over US number three carmaker Chrysler, suffered a 7.1% fall.
Even Germany, the EU’s strongest economy, saw sales slide 4.2%, says the ACEA.
By contrast, the UK was buoyant, with sales rising 10.8%, boosted in particular by a strong performance from Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover.
On Monday, the luxury car maker, which has plants in the West Midlands and Merseyside, reported record sales for 2013 with 425,000 cars sold worldwide.
Mazda also performed strongly across the EU, with sales rising 16.1%, the ACEA said.