By William Boston
New-car sales in the European Union surged nearly 14% in November, shrugging off Volkswagen AG’s diesel crisis to turn in the second-strongest monthly sales this year, according to data published Tuesday by the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association.
With the recovery of European car markets still strong, new-car sales rose 8.7% in the 11 months to November to 12.6 million vehicles. November sales posted the strongest increase since June, when new-car sales rose 14.6%.
Incentives, scrappage schemes to encourage car owners to trade in older vehicles, cheap oil, the weak euro, low interest rates and a robust cycle of new model launches are driving sales higher this year, Anil Valsan, global automotive analyst at Ernst & Young, said in a statement.
“As we move into 2016, the car market is expected to remain on the growth track,” he said.
The European divisions of U.S. manufacturers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. were among the biggest gainers last month, with new-car sales in the region growing 21% and 18%, respectively.
New-car sales of French auto maker PSA Peugeot Citroën rose 14%, compared with a 15% increase at rival Renault SA, and 19% for Italy’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
Sales of new cars from Volkswagen’s namesake VW brand rose 2.8% in November. Sales of the Volkswagen group, including Audi, Porsche, Skoda and SEAT, rose 4.1% in the EU last month.
Volkswagen sales recovered after declining in October, the first full month after the company admitted cheating on emissions tests. But the German car maker is trailing faster-growing rivals and losing market share. In November, Volkswagen’s share of the EU new-car market fell two points to 24.3%.
Rivals are exploiting Volkswagen’s weakness.
“We have included some VW cars in our trade-in programs,” Roelant de Waard, head of sales and marketing at Ford of Europe, told The Wall Street Journal. “We see some customers moving from VW to Ford.”
Growth is mixed across the EU.
New-car sales in Germany, the EU’s biggest car market by sales, outpaced the previous year, growing 8.9% in November. The United Kingdom, the second-largest auto market in the EU, grew 3.8%, recovering after a decline in October.
The strongest growth in new-car sales in the EU was in Spain, Italy and France, where sales made double-digit percentage gains.
“Rentals and self-registrations drove growth in Germany, France and the U.K., while growth in consumer confidence boosted car sales in Italy and Spain,” Mr. Valsan said.