The European auto market is finally picking up speed

Automakers have been struggling with a Europe problem for much of the past two years.

While the US auto market has boomed, setting a record for sales in 2015, Europe has been in the doldrums. Sales haven’t collapsed, but they have been reliably weak and at best, mostly flat.

But the situation could finally be improving.

“In the Germany, Europe’s largest market, August car sales increased by 8.3 per cent,” Reuters reported, citing, data from LMC, a forecaster that ran the numbers before the official announcement on Sept. 15. “Sales in Italy were up 20.1 per cent while in France, the third-largest market in Europe, they were up 6.7 per cent.”

A bump in European sales would be a boon for car makers witnessing a plateauing in the US market — with annual new car and truck sales peaking at between 17 and 18 million — as it would help with overall earnings. This is why automakers maintain a presence in multiple markets and have for decades. Much as BMW and Mercedes manufacture and sell vehicles in the US, the big American automakers — both Ford and General Motors — maintain robust European operations.

Europe hasn’t been much of a party for the past few years. But the situation there is far from as bad as it’s gotten in Latin America, where hopes of growth have been dashed by miserable economic conditions.

Car companies have been looking forward to better results in Europe, and now they couldn’t be coming at a better time, especially as China surging expansion eases and the US taps out.

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