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Car sales register best performance since 2002

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Despite the economic crisis in 2010, the automobile sector had its best year since 2002, recording high sales, according to data published by the Portuguese Automobile Association – ACAP.

Between January and December, 223,491 light passenger vehicles were sold, which represented an increase of 38.8% over 2009.

In 2002, the best in the last eight years, 228,574 vehicles were sold.

Car dealers consider this to be good news for the sector, after a 25% drop in sales in 2009 which was considered to be the sector’s ‘darkest period’ in the last two decades.

The recovery of the market in 2010 will also help boost the global consumption indicators in the country, since the automobile sector plays an important role in the economy.

December alone registered the biggest sales increase of the year, with a growth of 61.9% on the sale of light passenger vehicles over the same month in the previous year (a total of 28,142 units sold).

Light commercial vehicle sales grew 17.4% over the previous year, which corresponds to a total of 45,671 units sold in Portugal.

However, from January to December 2010 heavy vehicles registered a fall of 6.3% over the same period last year, with 3,599 units sold.

Meanwhile, last year also brought some good news for high-end car brands, breaking records with sales exceeding those recorded since 2002.

Porsche sold 469 vehicles in 2010, 88.4% more than in 2009 and Mercedes sold 9,010 units, 31.3% more than last year.

According to ACAP, this growth is related to the increase in taxes that came into effect this year, which led to an increase in the demand, especially in December.

The end of the incentives programme for scrapping old vehicles, the increase of the VAT rate from 21% to 23%, the increase of the vehicles tax (ISV) and the road circulation tax (IUC) are some of the measures which ACAP considers the main responsible factors for the sales increase in 2010.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from ACAP is not so optimistic for 2011 and said that the first quarter of 2011 will register strong falls.

“This will happen due to the high number of cars sold in December 2010,” he said, adding that, on average, ACAP estimates that prices will rise by 2.2% in 2011.