Sales of new cars in Europe rose by 3.2 percent in February on a 12-month comparison but fell 29.8 percent in Germany after its cash-for-clunkers scheme ran out, industry data showed on Tuesday.
The figures showed wide regional variation, with the plunge in Germany offset by rises in Britain (26.4 percent), France (18.2 percent), Italy (20.6 percent) and Spain (47 percent), mainly thanks to government stimulus plans.
A total of 1,000,754 new passenger cars were registered in the 28 European countries monitored by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, the Brussels-based manufacturers' group that compiled the preliminary data.
Eastern Europe was badly hit, with Bulgaria at -44.5 percent, Estonia at -47.7 percent, Hungary at -57.9 percent, Latvia at -40.2 percent, Lithuania at -17.3 percent, Poland at -19.2 percent and Romania at -63.0 percent.
Car sales rose only in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.
French car maker Renault was the company with the biggest rise in sales at 30 percent, followed by France's PSA Peugeot Citroen at 18.4 percent.
Europe's largest car firm, Volkswagen of Germany, saw sales dip 1.7 percent.