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Photograph: Photo by Kārlis Dambrāns, used under CC BY

New car sales in the European Union in April posted a year-on-year increase of 9.1 per cent, as Fiat Chrysler (FCA) leapfrogged Ford and Opel to become the fourth-biggest player in the market, industry data showed Friday.

More than 1.27 million vehicles were sold last month, the highest result in volume terms since April 2008 and the 32nd consecutive month of growth for the market, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said in a statement.

FCA sales were up 14.3 per cent to 88,400 cars, compared to Ford's 87,300 and Opel's 81,300, the Brussels-based body said. The Italo-American group's performance was driven by its Jeep brand, whose shipments jumped by 25.2 per cent.

Over the whole of 2015, FCA was only the seventh-largest seller in the 28-nation EU, lagging behind the two American-owned carmakers as well as Germany's BMW Group, which includes Mini cars.

Daimler, another German car group, also had a good month, with shipments for its Mercedes and Smart models up 21.2 per cent to 79,500 units. It was April's eight-largest seller, just behind its main rival BMW on 80,600.

Germany's Volkswagen Group, which suffered a slump in recent months following an emissions scandal, registered a rise in sales of 5.4 per cent, to 321,300 units. The percentage rise was below the market average, but VW comfortably held on to its leading 25.2-per-cent share.

The second and third positions in EU car sales rankings were retained by France's PSA and Renault groups, with respective takes of the market of 10.5 per cent and 10.3 per cent. PSA includes Peugeot and Citroen, and Renault its Romanian subsidiary Dacia.

Among major EU markets, the best April sales data came from Spain and Italy with respective yearly increases of 21.2 per cent and 11.5 per cent. In Germany the market expanded by 8.4 per cent; in France by 7.1 per cent; and in Britain by 2 per cent.

Over the January-April period, EU car sales were up 8.5 per cent year-on-year, to just under 5.1 million units. There was double-digit growth in Italy and Spain, and more subdued increases in other large countries.

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