MOTOR dealerships have reported very healthy growth in the past year with the number of newly-registered, straight-off-the-forecourt cars having risen by nearly 11% in just 12 months, with Rénault and CitroËn being the most popular makes.
Largely helped by the government's 'Plan PIVE', a scrap-for-cash deal whereby owners of cars of 10 years old or more can part-exchange their vehicles for a brand-new one giving them up to a €3,000 deposit, traffic authorities' drive to get older cars off the road and boost the motor market has consistently borne fruit in the last few years.
In 2016 alone, a total of 1.15 million new cars were registered and sold, according to the manufacturers' association ANFAC, dealership federation FACONAUTO and car sales collectiove GANVAM, whose figures all coincided and showed that just in December, the keys to nearly 97,000 brand-new vehicles were handed over to buyers.
This represents a 9.3% rise on the same month in 2015.
For the last year as a whole, commercial vehicles, including company cars, showed a 15.9% hike in sales, reaching just under 328,000, whilst privately-owned vehicle sales went up by 6.7% to nearly 613,000 and long-term rentals or contract hire – a growing trend among individuals which often works out cheaper than hire purchase – rose by 16.8%, to just less than 206,200 vehicles.
Companies bought nearly 30,000 vehicles just in December – an increase of 20.8% year-on-year – whilst private owners bought over 56,800, a rise of 0.6% on the same month in 2015 and contract hire shot up by 38.4%, with almost 10,100 cars being shifted.
Despite these promising figures, dealerships admit they have still not recovered levels of sales seen in 2008, the year before the financial crisis fully broke out, and that they are still a long way from their maximum sales potential of 1.3 million in a year.
Still, if everything goes according to schedule and the Plan PIVE continues, dealership associations forecast total sales of at least 1.2 million over the course of 2017.
The Plan PIVE is 'fundamental' to ensuring the motor trade continues its upward trend, given that the average age of a car on Spanish roads is 12 years and this is likely to carry on rising, or at least remain the same, until the year 2020 'unless appropriate measures are taken'.
Last year's top buys were Rénault, a make which sold over 90,500 cars, but in terms of the most successful model, the CitroËn C4 was more frequently snapped up, with 34,615 sold.
Diesel-engine cars, despite talks about banning them from cities – something Paris and México DF have already done – are still the most sought-after because they are cheaper to run, and represent almost 57% of the total handed over to new buyers, with just 3% electrically-powered and hybrid vehicles sold.
Small cars remain the most popular due to their being cheaper to tax, insure and run, and more convenient for parking – they rose in sales by 7.3%, a total of over 314,700 – whilst medium-sized cars went up by 8.8% with just under 300,000 shifted.
In third place, small 4x4 all-terrain vehicles rose in sales by 30.8%, with nearly 123,700 handed over.
The majority of new vehicle buyers were in Madrid, a region which saw a 13.8% hike with over 367,300 cars sold, followed by Catalunya where nearly 178,000 were bought, an increase of 9.6%.
Outside the regions which are home to Spain's largest two cities, Andalucía had the highest number of sales, with over 127,500 brand-new vehicles purchased in 2016, a hike of 12.4% on figures for 2015.