January 6, 2015 / 2:27 PM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Record Czech car registrations in 2014 as economy recovers

(Adds leading brands, quote, outlook for 2015)

PRAGUE, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Czech new car registrations jumped 16.7 percent in 2014 to a record high of 192,314 units, with more growth seen this year, the country’s Car Importers’ Association said on Tuesday.

Domestic demand helped the European Union member’s economy rebound last year after a lengthy recession, with third quarter growth reaching 2.4 percent year-on-year.

The car sales figures were the highest on records going back to 1994.

“The result is excellent considering we had predicted 3-5 percent growth a year ago,” the association’s Secretary Pavel Tunkl told reporters.

Tunkl told Reuters the association predicts a 5-10 percent increase this year to 200,000-210,000 if positive sentiment in the economy continues, as expected by economists.

Sales growth in 2014 outpaced that in several big European economies. In Germany, sales climbed by 3 percent last year, while in France registrations edged up 0.3 percent. Spain, also recovering after a deep recession, saw an 18.4 percent jump.

Volkswagen unit Skoda Auto, the biggest Czech company and the country’s key employer and exporter, maintained its dominant domestic market position with a 30.2 percent share.

Skoda was followed by Hyundai with 9.84 percent and the Volkswagen brand with 9.5 percent.

The finance ministry and private sector analysts expect gross domestic product to grow about 2.5 percent this year. (Reporting by Robert Muller, writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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