European vehicle sales rose 9.6 percent in April, spurred mainly by strong increases in the largest market, Germany, and in France. German automakers in particular reaped the benefit.
The industry sold 1,420,944 units, up 124,615 from April 2007. Sales in Germany were up 20 percent, at 317,960 units. French sales rose 15.0 percent.
The April sales spike pushed European sales ahead of 2007, up 1.0 percent from the first four months of last year.
Among brands, Volkswagen remained the industry leader in April, with 153,077 units sold, an 11.9 percent year-over-year increase.
General Motors' Opel/Vauxhall came in second with 112,788, edging Renault division by 191 units. Ford division, with 109,835 units, and Peugeot, with 100,706 units, rounded out the top five brands.
German luxury brands had a strong month. Mercedes-Benz was up 14.4 percent year over year, BMW was up 26.4 percent and Audi was up 9.3 percent.
For the year to date, VW leads other brands by a healthy margin, tallying 556,613 units. Runner-up Ford brand sold 463,792 units in the first four months.
Among companies, Volkswagen AG led automakers in April. VW is the only automaker above 1 million units for the year to date. PSA Group ranked second and Ford Motor third for both April and the year to date.
April was difficult for Toyota Motor, down 1.7 percent, and Honda Motor, down 8.6 percent. Asian automakers that posted sales increases were Nissan, Mazda, Hyundai, Suzuki, Kia and Mitsubishi.