European auto sales rose 3 percent in February -- but it's the smallest monthly gain since last June, when many governments introduced big cash-for-clunker-style incentives to help struggling manufacturers.
February sales in 28 European markets barely topped 1 million units. For the first two months, sales are up 8 percent to 2.1 million.
In countries where programs continue or were renewed, sales remain strong and are benefiting local manufacturers. Sales rose 18 percent in France last month. The European sales of French carmaker Renault group rose 30 percent, while PSA group gained 18 percent.
In Italy, a 21 percent gain last month helped Fiat Group boost European sales 5 percent.
But in Germany, which has ended its incentive program, February sales fell 30 percent. Volkswagen Group and Daimler AG lost volume across Europe, although BMW Group gained 7 percent.
Most manufacturers have said they expect 2010 sales to fall below last year's 14.5 million vehicles.
For the first two months, Renault, PSA and Fiat scored double-digit sales gains, while VW and Ford Motor Co. reported more modest growth. Toyota group was down 6 percent, and General Motors Co. was off 3 percent.
BMW Group, which trailed Daimler during the first two months of 2009, led its German rival by 11,271 units through February of this year.
Among other automakers, it's feast or famine. Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and Jaguar Land Rover were all up by double-digit percentages. Suzuki, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Chrysler Group are down by double digits.