Spain's Seat begins car exports to China
Seat, the ailing Spanish subsidiary of German auto giant Volkswagen, on Tuesday began exports of its vehicles from Spain to China, the world's largest car market.
The company loaded the first 250 cars of the roughly 4,000 vehicles it expects to export to China this year onto a ship in Barcelona bound for the Chinese ports of Guangzhou and Tianjin, the company said in a statement.
Seat has imposed successive temporary layoff plans on its workers as it struggles with a drop in demand in its domestic market Spain since the collapse of a property bubble in 2008 sent the country into an economic tailspin.
Spain produced 2.39 million vehicles in 2010, making it the second-largest auto manufacturer in Europe after Germany, according to most recent figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.
The country has no national automaker besides Seat, which is now owned by Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker.
China overtook the United States as the world's number one car market in 2009 and sales soared 32 percent in 2010 to a record 18.06 million units.
But the sector has since lost steam after Beijing phased out sales incentives such as tax breaks for small-engine cars.
© 2012 AFP