New-car sales in eastern Europe grew rapidly in 2007, while sales in western Europe were flat.
Romania's sales grew 26.3 percent last year. That made it Europe's eighth-largest new-car market, up from No. 12 in 2006, according to data from ACEA, the European automakers' association.
Romania passed Swe-den, Austria and Greece for the No. 8 spot.
ACEA said rising oil prices, taxes, tight credit and shrinking purchasing power hurt sales in western Europe. Sales totaled 14.8 million last year, up 0.2 percent from 2006.
Sales in Germany, Europe's biggest market, slipped 9.2 percent to just over 3.1 million as many customers stopped buying cars because of a steep rise in the value-added tax and uncertainty over new CO2 emission taxes.
In western European, markets, sales in Italy grew 7.1 percent, helped by government incentives. In the United Kingdom, sales rose 2.5 percent, mostly driven by private demand, especially for diesel and small cars, ACEA said.
In France, sales grew 3.2 percent, but they were down 1.2 percent in Spain.
Rising wealth in Poland, the Czech Republic and new European Union member Romania led to a 14.5 percent gain in registrations in eastern Europe, according to ACEA.
Seven eastern and central European countries posted double-digit yearly growth percentages. Only Hungary reported lower sales, down 7.8 percent from 2006.
Total new-car sales in the EU and the EFTA region — which includes Switzerland, Norway and Iceland — grew by 1.1 percent to 16.0 million.
Throughout all of Europe, Fiat posted the strongest growth among major carmakers at 7.1 percent. Volkswagen group, Europe's biggest carmaker, reported a sales decline of 1.1 percent, to 3.2 million units.