Spanish auto sales fall for 8th straight month

1st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

New car sales in Spain posted a double-digit drop for a eighth straight month in February, a trade association said Tuesday.

A total of 66,120 new cars were sold last month, down 27.6 percent from the same time last year when a government trade-in bonus scheme was still in place, auto manufacturers' association Anfac said in a statement.

During the first two months of the year new car sales totaled 119,752, a drop of 25.8 percent over the year-ago figure.

Sales "registered during the first two months of the year show that the sector and the Spanish economy have not yet emerged from the economic crisis," Anfac director general Luis Valero said in the statement.

Car sales in Spain inched up 3.1 percent in 2010 to 982,015, after two years of declines, but the rise was fueled by strong sales during the first half when the government incentive programme still existed.

With sales up 39.5 percent in the first half of the year, they dropped by over 20 percent each month since the incentive programme ended in July 2010 and the sales tax rose by two percentage points that month.

Under the trade-in scheme introduced in May 2009, the government offered subsidies of up to 2,000 euros ($2,600) to help boost car sales. The programme expired when the money set aside for it was exhausted.

New car sales fell 17.9 percent in 2009 after dropping 28 percent in 2008, the biggest-ever annual decline as the collapse of a property bubble plunged the country into its worst recession in decades.

The Spanish economy, Europe's fifth-largest, shrank 0.1 percent in 2010 and the unemployment rate ended the year at 20.33 percent, the highest level in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

© 2011 AFP

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