European car sales rose in January, recording their fifth straight month of growth.
Increases in heavily crisis-hit countries such as Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal suggest a recovery is gaining strength after a six year slump.
Analysts pointed out that none of the large markets saw sales fall, some of the smaller markets have picked up and carmakers can now switch their focus from survival to revival.
January registrations of new vehicles Europe-wide were up 5.5 percent from a year earlier.
Ireland showed the biggest increase – 32.8 percent – followed by Portugal with 31.8 percent.
Even sales in Greece rose by 15.4 percent and in Spain they were 7.6 percent higher.
All the major European markets reported a rise, with Britain up 7.6 percent and Germany up 7.2 percent, while Italy and France grew 3.2 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.
Only Netherlands among the larger markets was down, by 7.1 percent.
Value brands and upmarket vehicles appeared to be the main beneficiaries of growth.
Sales at Renault Group jumped 13 percent, boosted mainly by a 38 percent surge in registrations of its no-frills Dacia brand.
Germany’s Volkswagen Group posted an 8.2 percent rise, with its value brand Skoda up 10 percent and premium marque Audi enjoying 8.5 gains.