Spanish auto sales inch up 3.1 percent in 2010: trade data

3rd January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Car sales in Spain rose 3.1 percent last year, after two years of double-digit declines, but were down in December for the sixth straight month following the end of a government trade-in bonus scheme, manufacturers' association Anfac said Monday.

Sales of new cars in the country plunged 23.9 percent in December over the same month last year to 68,942 units, bringing total sales for the year to 982,015 units, it said in a statement posted on its web site.

"The year 2010 was marked by two distinct periods," said Anfac.

While sales were up 39.5 percent during the first half of the year, they have dropped by over 20 percent each month since the incentive programme ended in July 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 dollars) 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 by 28 percent in 2008, its 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, emerged from recession with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and 0.2 percent in the second, but then stalled with zero percent growth in the third.

With an unemployment rate of around 20 percent, the highest in the European Union, consumers have curbed spending, especially on big ticket items.

Anfac estimates that Spain has a potential for yearly car sales of between 1.3 and 1.4 million units.

Spain's auto manufacturing sector is the third-biggest in Europe and ranks eighth worldwide, although it has no national auto maker besides Seat, which is now owned by Germany's Volkswagen.

© 2011 AFP

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