ECONOMY

November saw 14 pct rebound in new vehicle sales

The 14.4 percent rise seen in car sales in November compared to the figures recorded in the same month last year came as a breath of fresh air to the sector, even though the number of purchases was well below the monthly average before the economic crisis began.

The increase in corporate sales, with companies replacing older models and large-capacity cars with new and smaller vehicles, the scrapping scheme that is coming to an end, along with multiplying special offers by car dealers to lure business are the main reasons behind the small rise in sales.

Another noteworthy factor is consumers? growing interest in purchasing diesel-powered cars. Though more expensive than similar vehicles fueled by petrol, diesel cars have lower running costs.

According to industry insiders, following the recent liberalization of diesel cars in Athens and Thessaloniki with regard to vehicles in the Euro 5 and Euro 6 categories, many consumers who had initially placed orders for regular gas-powered automobiles subsequently switched to diesel models.

According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), 9,888 vehicle licenses were issued in November 2011, compared to 9,475 during the same month last year, pointing to a 4.4 percent rise this year. New vehicle licenses in the passenger car category, which make up the market?s bulk, rose by 14.4 percent in that same period, coming to 8,557 from 7,477 last year. However, when compared to the vehicle licenses issued in November 2009, the figures are down 61.2 percent.

Nevertheless, despite the slight improvement in activity reported in the month of November, the overall course of the market since the beginning of the year could hardly be described as satisfactory, given that the scrapping scheme was unable to counterbalance the effects of the deep recession. During the January-November 2011 period, 119,466 vehicle licenses were issued compared to 178,456 in the same period the year before, pointing to a 33.1 percent decrease, while licenses issued for automobiles dropped 32 percent.

Meanwhile, most local car dealerships are continuing to woo clients with special offers, while a considerable number have turned to slashing prices, sometimes reaching up to 1,000 euros. In the promotions arena, car dealers are offering discounts for cash payments, free car insurance and road tax, while some will even cover the cost of fuel consumed by new cars during their first year on the road.