New car registrations jumped by 10.6 percent in Europe last month, their strongest gain in a year, according to data released Thursday, providing a further signal of recovery in the region's economy.
"All major markets contributed positively to the overall expansion," to 1,604,107 units, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement.
Registrations of new cars, a proxy for sales, provide an important indicator of consumer demand and auto manufacturing is a major employer in the economic sector.
The ECB launched a massive 1.1-trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) stimulus programme last month to try to lift the anaemic growth rate in the eurozone, which managed an expansion of just 0.4 percent last year.
March was the 19th consecutive month of increasing vehicle registrations in Europe and in the first quarter of 2015 sales rose by 8.6 percent over the same period last year to 3.5 million vehicles.
The European car market only snapped a six-year slump brought on by the global financial crisis in 2014, when sales grew by 5.7 percent.
But the sector's still convalescent state is clear in comparing the 12.5 million units sold last year to the 16 million which rolled off dealers' lots in 2007 before Wall Street unleashed a global financial crisis.
In March, the gains in sales were very strong in Spain, where they shot up by 40.5 percent compared to the same month last year, and in Italy where they jumped by 15.1 percent.
Both markets were especially hard hit by the crisis, contracting by about half.
On a quarterly basis, Spain was also the biggest gainer, with sales soaring by 32.2 percent. It was followed by Italy with a 13.5 percent gain.
In March, sales also rose by a solid 9.3 percent in France and 9.0 percent in Germany.
In Britain, which is not part of the eurozone, registrations rose by 6.0 percent in March.
Among manufacturers, the Volkswagen group remained in pole position in Europe with a market share of 24.3 percent in the first quarter, up 0.2 percentage points from the same period last year.
France's Peugeot Citroen PSA still remained in second place, but saw its market share dip 0.5 percentage points to 10.7 percent.
Renault was in third at 9.5 percent, an increase of 0.1 percentage points.
Nissan, a Renault ally whose sales are not counted together, saw its European sales rise above its Japanese rival Toyota, giving it a 4.5 percent market share.