THE ECONOMIC recession in Portugal hit car dealerships hard, with sales of new vehicles falling by nearly five per cent last year.
According to the Secretary General of the Portuguese Association for the Associação do Comércio Automóvel de Portugal (ACAP), the association of automobile commerce, the situation isn’t likely to improve in 2007.
“In spite of the changes to the Imposto Automóvel (IA), car tax, introduced by the government to create a fairer deal on sales of new, economical low-end market vehicles, this won’t be the year when the car market in Portugal bounces back,” warned Hélder Pedro of ACAP.
ACAP says that any recovery is likely to be extremely modest indeed, standing at around two per cent. In the past six years 153,643 fewer cars were sold in Portugal.
“December 2006, was the worst month on record with the fall in sales exceeding all expectations,” said Hélder Pedro.
According to ACAP statistics, 194,684 light passenger vehicles (conventional cars) were sold, representing a 5.7 per cent drop on 2005, while commercial light good vehicles (vans) suffered a corresponding decrease of 3.2 per cent on 2005, with sales of 64,489 vehicles.
The only positive marker on an otherwise depressing landscape was the sales of heavy good vehicles (lorries and trucks), which increased by 12 per cent.
The fall in sales has, in part, been caused by the overall recession in the vehicle making industry in the western world, the closure of factories, the re-location of others and the consequent reduction in employees.
Hélder Pedro said that at the beginning of 2006, ACAP had “predicted stagnation in vehicle sales”, but that halfway through the year sales projections had to be re-worked as sales pointed to the downward trend being worse than anticipated.
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