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Rise of the underdogs? Low-cost car brands most popular in Europe

European car sales rose 10 percent in August, according to the latest regional industry data, with low-cost brands beating off their more highbrow rivals.

In August 2016, the EU passenger car market posted strong growth of 10 percent compared with the same month in the previous year with registrations totaling 819,126 units, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said on Thursday.

Among the major markets, Italy and Spain in southern Europe recorded the highest percentage gains in terms of sales, of 20.1 percent and 14.6 percent respectively. They were followed by Germany ( up 8.3 percent), France ( 6.7 percent higher) and the United Kingdom (up 3.3 percent) – all of which performed better than in August 2015, the ACEA said.


The SEAT Ibiza
Bloomberg | Getty Images
The SEAT Ibiza

The brands that saw the biggest increases in sales in the EU were mainly low-cost. Fiat cars (part of the Fiat Chrysler family) saw a 20 percent increase in sales in August from the previous year. Meanwhile, Seat (a part of the VW group, which collectively saw a 6.9 percent sales increase) enjoyed a 19 percent rise and Renault's Dacia brand experienced a 36.7 percent rise in sales.

France's PSA Peugeot Citroen saw lesser gains with its Peugeot brand reporting a 6.5 percent sales increase although its Citroen and DS models saw sales decline.

The ACEA noted that the data represented "an impressive performance, considering that August normally is one of the weakest months of the year in volume terms due to the summer holidays."

The latest sales figure was especially surprising given that they followed a 1.4 percent decline in sales in July, ending a 34-month winning streak of consecutive growth for European car sales.

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