Europe's exploding car sales are the best sign yet that there's a recovery underway

Celebrating ItaliansREUTERS/Stefano RellandiniJockey Giovanni Atzeni of the Oca (Goose) parish celebrates after winning the Palio race in Siena July 2, 2013.

European car sales are going through the roof — and that’s a fantastic signal for the economy.

According to the latest figures just out from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA), sales boomed 10.6% in the year to March for the whole of the European Union.

But according to Claus Vistesen at Pantheon Macroeconomics, the eurozone actually performed even better than the EU as a whole — in the countries that use the euro, sales soared +13.3% compared to March 2014.

Here’s how that looks:

This is one of the best signals that the eurozone has at the moment. For quite a long time, sales of cars in the European Union were stronger than the eurozone as a whole — because the United Kingdom’s recovery started earlier, and the UK is in the EU but not the eurozone.

But the eurozone is now solidly ahead, and the latest figures show some of the pent-up demand that’s been missing in recent years. A 13.3% rise in car sales is far better than was seen at any point in the boom years running up to the financial crisis in 2008, suggesting that people finally feel comfortable enough to make those big purchases.

It actually gets even better than that, because some of the countries most severely hit by the euro crisis in recent years are the ones surging back at the fastest pace. Here’s a country-by-country breakdown:

Some of the peripheral economies with the most clear recovery stories are making the surge in the rest of Europe look small — Spanish and Portuguese sales each rose
by more than 40%
in the year to March. Ireland is not far behind, with sales up a third in six months.

The recovery in the eurozone so far has been consumer-driven, but these are probably the best figures we’ve had so far that really illustrate that astonishing rebound.

NOW WATCH: You’ve been doing pull-ups all wrong

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at