Spanish car sales show first rise in 16 months

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Trade data shows number of new car registrations leapt 18 percent to 77,374 cars in September.

Madrid – New car registrations in Spain leapt 18 percent in September on a 12-month basis, the first increase for 16 months as government incentives spurred sales, industry data showed on Thursday.

The Spanish auto sector, along with the property market, has been particularly hard hit by the global economic crisis which has had a severe effect in Spain.

A total of 77,374 cars were registered during the month, up from 65,594 in September 2008, Spanish car manufacturers' association ANFAC said in a statement.

It is the first month since April 2008 that the number of new car registrations in Spain has increased on an annual basis.

The sharp drop in auto sales began easing in Spain after a government subsidy for new car purchases of between EUR 1,500 and 2,000 came into effect on 18 May.

Registrations were flat in August, after falling by 10.9 percent in July and 15.9 percent in June.

In the nine months to the end of September, registrations were down 28.6 percent, ANFAC said.

It said the Renault Megane was the top-selling make in September, followed by the Citroen C4 and the Ford Focus.

Sales to individuals were up 48.6 percent on a 12-month basis, while those to car hire companies plunged 45 percent "due basically to financing problems." In 2008, new car sales plunged 28 percent, the biggest-ever annual decline when the country slid into its first recession in 15 years.

Spain's auto manufacturing sector is the third-biggest in Europe, although it has no national automaker except Seat, which is owned by Germany's Volkswagen.

It is also a major exporter, with its 18 factories belonging to some of the world's biggest automakers.

AFP / Expatica

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