Spanish auto sales fall for 9th straight month
New car sales in Spain posted a double-digit drop for a ninth straight month in March, a trade association said Friday.
A total of 88,396 new cars were sold last month, down 29.1 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 quarter of the year new car sales totaled 208,151, a drop of 27.3 percent from the same period in 2010.
"We hope that in the coming months, thanks to the good outlook for tourism, sales to rental companies will allow us to reach a better level," the president of ANFAC, Luis Valero, said in a statement.
However, the president of the GANVAM auto dealers association, Juan Antonio Sanchez Torres, said "the macroeconomic variables paint a scenario that is not at all favourable for the auto market."
The Bank of Spain warned on Wednesday of slower-than-expected growth ahead and said the country will miss its key public deficit targets this year and next.
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 ($2,800) 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