PARIS European car sales rose 10.9 percent in March, led by buoyant demand in the region's top five markets and strong gains for Toyota (7203.T), Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) and Nissan (7201.T), according to industry data published on Wednesday.
Registrations rose to 1.937 million cars last month in the European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, Brussels-based industry body ACEA said, from 1.746 million a year earlier. That took first-quarter sales to 4.26 million cars, an 8.2 percent gain.
Toyota recorded the biggest monthly advance among major auto brands, with an 18.8 percent sales increase, closely followed by Fiat Chrysler with 18.2 percent and Nissan with 17.7 percent.
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), the regional market leader, lost ground as its March registrations rose by a market-lagging 6.2 percent. France's PSA Group (PEUP.PA) also underperformed with a 6.7 percent sales increase. Domestic rival Renault (RENA.PA) fared better, with a 14.4 percent gain in deliveries.
Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain all posted auto sales growth of between 7 percent and 18 percent, based on national registrations published earlier this month.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Gareth Jones)