New car registrations hit 1.16m last month, marking the third monthly gain in the last two years, figures from industry body ACEA showed yesterday.
Having fallen to their lowest level since 1990 over the summer, the improvement in September was driven by strong sales in the UK as well as bounces from a low base in Ireland, Spain and Portugal.
Meanwhile sales continued to drop in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.
European Union sales remain 3.9 per cent below last year in the nine months to the end of last month. By contrast, British motorists bought 10.8 per cent more cars than last year in the period.
“The worst is behind us. The decline in sales has considerably slowed and we are now witnessing signs of recovery in demand,” said Peter Fuss, senior advisory partner at EY’s global automotive centre.
By manufacturer, Volkswagen and Renault enjoyed a strong September with registrations up 5.4 and 17 per cent respectively, while France’s PSA Peugeot suffered a 2.9 per cent fall.