French September car registrations up 3.4 pct

PARIS Tue Oct 1, 2013 3:09am EDT

PARIS Oct 1 (Reuters) - French auto registrations rose 3.4 percent last month, led by Renault PA>, Fiat and Mercedes, fueling hopes that auto demand may finally stabilise in one of the markets worst hit by Europe's sustained slump.

Car registrations rose to 142,211 vehicles in September, France's CCFA industry group said on Tuesday.

Sales for the first nine months of the year were down 8.5 percent, and the Paris-based organisation maintained its full-year forecast of an 8 percent decline.

French carmaker Renault led the September rise with an 18.1 percent increase due to better sales of its latest small crossover model. Volkswgagen sales also rose 1.7 percent while Fiat sales grew 17.2 percent.

Ford and PSA Peugeot Citroen were among other mass automakers that fared poorly, with respective declines of 8.3 percent and 6.8 percent.

Germany's Daimler sales of Mercedes cars rebounded sharply, rising 38.9 percent.

France had barred A-Class, B-Class, CLA and SL cars assembled since June because of Daimler's refusal to stop using the air-conditioning coolant R134a, banned from new vehicles since the start of the year under the terms of an EU directive.

But in late August France's top administrative court lifted the sales freeze on Mercedes vehicles. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Natalie Huet)

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