Spanish auto sales slump: trade data

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

New car sales in Spain posted a double-digit drop for a tenth month in April, a trade association said on Tuesday, as consumers continue to hold back spending in Europe's fifth-biggest economy.

A total of 71,808 new cars were sold last month, down 23.3 percent from the same time last year, auto manufacturers' association ANFAC said in a statement, with the end of a car scrappage scheme and the fragility in the economy blamed.

During the first four months of the year new car sales amounted to 279,960, a drop of 26.3 percent from the same period in 2010, it added.

"The market continues its negative trend, despite the important efforts made by car makers to lure buyers," the head of ANFAC, Luis Valero, said in the statement.

New car sales in Spain have fallen by over 20 percent each month since a government trade-in programme ended in July 2010 and the sales tax rose by two eprcentage points that month.

Under the programme introduced in May 2009, the government offered subsidies of up to 2,000 euros ($2,965) to help boost car sales. The programme expired when the money set aside for it was exhausted.

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.

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.

Spain's unemployment rate hits 21.29 percent in the first quarter, the highest level since the beginning of 1997 and the highest level in the European Union.

The high jobless rate has caused consumers to cut back on spending, especially on big ticket items like cars.

© 2011 AFP

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