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The United Kingdom has become Europe’s second-biggest car market behind Germany, bumping France down into third spot following strong sales in November.

Industry journal Automotive News Europe reports the latest new-car sales figures for November and for the year to date highlight the economic difficulties some nations across Europe are facing.

Sales in the UK rose 11.3 per cent in November to 149,191 units, contributing to total sales of 1.92 million vehicles for the first 11 months of the year – up 5.4 per cent over 2011. Meanwhile, France’s November sales fell 19.2 per cent to 144,694 units for a 2012 total of 1.73 million vehicles, down 13.8 per cent.

Peugeot 308

Europe’s number one market, Germany, saw a three per cent reduction in sales in November to 260,000 with yearly figures falling two per cent to 2.88 million units.

So far in 2012 the Ford Fiesta (pictured top) has been Britain’s best selling car, with its bigger sibling, the Ford Focus, taking top honours in last month’s totals.

Europe continues to prove challenging for vehicle manufacturers this year with several companies forced to cut jobs and restructure its operations due to financial pressures including Peugeot, Opel and Ford.