The European car market clocked up double-digit growth in March, with new car registrations returning to their pre-crisis levels, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA said on Wednesday.
"In March 2017, EU passenger car registrations increased significantly by 11.2 percent," totalling 1.89 million units, ACEA said in a statement.
The strong growth was largely due to the timing of the Easter holidays, which had fallen in March last year and in April this year, the association explained.
Nevertheless, "all the big five markets recorded very strong performances during the month," ACEA said.
New car registrations were up 18.2 percent in Italy, 12.6 percent in Spain, 11.4 percent in Germany, 8.4 percent in Britain and 7.0 percent in France.
Taking the first three months of 2017, demand for passenger cars in Europe increased by 8.4 percent to 4.141 million vehicles.
Here, too, the number of new car registrations grew most strongly in Italy, where sales sped ahead by 11.9 percent.
The Spanish market expanded by 7.9 percent in the period from January to March, the German market by 6.7 percent, the UK market by 6.2 percent and the French market by 4.8 percent, "all... contributing to the overall upturn of the EU market."
German car giant Volkswagen remained Europe's biggest manufacturer, with registrations of its VW, Audi, Skoda, SEAT and Porsche brands rising by 6.5 percent. It commands a 21.3-percent share of the market.
French maker PSA Peugeot Citroen saw its sales rise by 6.9 percent in the three-month period, while new registrations of Renault raced ahead by 14.4 percent.
Each has a market share of 9.5 percent.
New registrations of Opel and Vauxhall, the European arms of US giant General Motors currently being taken over by PSA, were up by 3.1 percent.
By contrast, US rival Ford saw its sales in European zoom ahead by 16.7 percent, new registrations of Fiat Chrysler were up 17.7 percent, Daimler sales grew by 12.7 percent and BMW sales were up 7.7 percent.
Japanese maker, Toyota, the world's number two, also performed well, with registrations rising by 19.2 percent, while rival Nissan booked an increase of 18.2 percent.
The European market for new cars expanded by 6.8 percent to 14.64 million units in 2016, almost the level seen in 2008 when the economic crisis began.
It fell as low as 11.8 million units in 2013.