Three large automotive markets supported global automotive growth during the first half of 2015, led by Western Europe, according to research by the German Automobile Industry Association (VDA).

Western Europe expanded strongly, by 8 percent, while the U.S. increased by over 4 percent and China achieved growth of around 7 percent. Russia (-36 percent) and Brazil (-20 percent) remain causes for concern.

The passenger car market in Western Europe increased by nearly 15 percent in June to over 1.3 million new vehicles, according to the researchers. This represents clear growth, even after adjustment for the number of working days – last month had two more working days than June 2014.

Five top markets in Western Europe recorded double-digit growth. In Spain, the market increased by over 23 percent, in France the rise was 15 percent, and in Italy it was more than 14 percent. The United Kingdom and Germany both expanded by around 13 percent. The upswing has now firmly established itself on a broad front. Demand for new cars increased in all Western European countries except Finland and Ireland, with Portugal in the lead with a rise of 34 percent. The year-to-date volume of new registrations in Western Europe is up by 8 percent and exceeds 6.9 million units.

In the new EU Member States, new registrations of passenger cars increased by around 17 percent in June to reach 93,500 new cars. Double-digit growth rates were seen in Lithuania (+30 percent), Romania and Bulgaria (both +24 percent), Cyprus (+23 percent), Poland (+18 percent), the Czech Republic and Hungary (both +17 percent), Slovenia (+13 percent), and Croatia and Latvia (both +11 percent). This year so far 495,100 new cars have been registered in the new EU countries (+8 percent), according to the VDA research.

U.S. sales of light vehicles (passenger cars and light-duty trucks) expanded by almost 4 percent in June month, reaching around 1.5 million units. While sales in the light-duty truck segment climbed by 11 percent to 811,000 units, sales of cars fell by nearly 4 percent (659,600 new cars).

The volume of the overall light vehicle market rose in the first half-year by a little over 4 percent, totaling around 8.5 million new vehicles, with the light-duty truck segment increasing by almost 10 percent to a good 4.6 million units while the passenger car segment came to just over 3.8 million new vehicles, slightly below last year’s level (-1 percent).

Growth in China has already slowed down noticeably during recent months. June sales of new cars amounted to a good 1.4 million units (-2 percent), failing for the first time to match the previous year’s result. But, bolstered by the strong first quarter, over the first half-year the Chinese passenger car market totaled almost 9.5 million units, which was a rise of around 7 percent.

In Japan, new registrations of passenger cars slumped by around 4 percent in June to 364,900 vehicles. The market volume for the first six months comes to nearly 2.3 million units, which is more than 12 percent down on the same period last year, according to the VDA research.

The Indian passenger car market contracted slightly last month (-1 percent). Since January vehicle sales have risen by a good 5 percent to around 1.4 million units, according to the VDA.

The light vehicle market in Russia continued to collapse in June, recording a figure of 140,200 new vehicles (-30 percent). In the first half of 2015, Russian sales of light vehicles fell to 782,100 units (-36 percent). The Russian market was weaker only during the crisis year 2009, according to the VDA.

The Brazilian light vehicle market also went into reverse in June. The volume of new registrations decreased by just over 18 percent to 204,900 units. Year-to-date registrations now total nearly 1.3 million new vehicles (-20 percent), according to the VDA.