New car sales in the European Union were up 6.9 per cent year-on-year in June, an industry group said Friday, meaning sales had almost reached the pre-crisis sales levels of June 2007.

Nearly 1.46 million vehicles were sold last month, representing the 34th straight month of growth for the market, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said in a statement.

It also recorded a 9.4-per-cent increase in new car sales during the first half of 2016, totalling 7.8 million vehicles.

Among major EU nations, vehicle sales increased by 11.9 per cent in Italy, 11.2 per cent in Spain and 8.3 per cent in Germany, the bloc's biggest market. French sales remained almost equal to June 2015 levels.

Demand in Britain fell slightly in June, when consumers faced uncertainty about that month's referendum on EU membership. It is unclear what impact the June 23 decision to leave the bloc will have on Britain and the EU's interwoven car industries.

Germany's Volkswagen Group, which suffered a slump in recent months following the diesel emissions scandal, remained the EU market leader, despite its share falling to 23 per cent, compared to 24.2 per cent in June 2015.

Renault remained the second-biggest seller, with 12.2 per cent of the EU market, ahead of fellow French car group PSA, which stood at 10.1 per cent. BMW rose to fourth place with a 7-per-cent market share.

Fiat-Chrysler slipped two ranks to come in sixth, with 6.7 per cent of the market, behind Ford and Opel which both held a share of 6.9 per cent in June.

Last month, ACEA President and head of German carmaker Daimler Dieter Zetsche raised 2016 annual growth estimates for the EU car market from 2 per cent to 5 per cent, expecting more than 14 million vehicles to be sold this year.

New car sales are a closely watched indicator of economic health. In the EU, they fell sharply following the 2008 global financial crash, but have been rising steadily since September 2013.

Latest news

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for "The Truth" with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.

Trump blasts Mexico as top diplomat holds talks in Mexico City

US President Donald Trump expressed ambivalence about the US relationship with Mexico as he blasted the country Thursday for what he claims is an unfair trade relationship.

Croat accused of rioting at UEFA 2016 game goes on trial

The trial of Ivan Vucenovic, 21, accused of causing rioting during a European soccer championship match between Croatia and the Czech Republic in Saint Etienne, France last June, began at the Sibenik Municipal Court on Thursday.

Schools blocked, 26 arrests in Paris protests against police abuses

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday in protests against alleged police brutality, with local media reporting that 16 secondary schools were forced to shut.