BERLIN, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Car sales in Europe rose 6.1 percent in September, helped by strong demand in the region's top markets of Germany, the UK and France, data from the Association of European Carmakers (ACEA) showed.
New passenger-car registrations in the European Union (EU) and the countries of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) increased to 1.269 million vehicles last month, from 1.196 million a year ago, ACEA said on Friday.
Europe's auto market bottomed out in 2013, the end of a six-year slump, and has posted growth for 13 straight months. But the fragile recovery is still threatened by weak confidence and geopolitical uncertainties in Russia and elsewhere.
Sales in Germany, the region's biggest market and home of Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, gained 5.2 percent to 260,062 models. Second-placed UK and No. 3 market France were up 5.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.
Growth of nearly 30 percent or more in Spain, Portugal and Greece, countries formerly hit by austerity, stoked demand for volume brands, with deliveries of the VW passenger-car brand up 7.5 percent, Ford up 6.5 percent and General Motors' Opel division rising 6.2 percent.
Overall, nine-month European sales rose 5.8 percent to 9.91 million vehicles from 9.36 million in the year-earlier period, according to ACEA.
For the 28-nation European Union, last month's 6.4 percent sales gain was nearly on par with the 6.5 percent growth achieved in September 2009, the strongest September gain over the past decade, ACEA data showed.
Luxury nameplates Audi and Mercedes-Benz, both locked into an intense sales battle with premium champion BMW, rebounded from declines in August, growing deliveries 2.9 percent and 9 percent, respectively. BMW, by contrast, fell 2.1 percent in September after declining 2 percent a month earlier.
PSA Peugeot Citroen, recovering from the previous sales slump that saw it lose billions of euros and rely on French government bailouts, posted almost 10 percent higher sales, extending year-to-date deliveries by 4.7 percent. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)