ECONOMY

March car sales drop ahead of tax break

Car sales in March fell by 40.1 percent year-on-year, according to the National Statistics Service (NSS), after respective annual drops of 40.5 percent and 34.5 percent in January and February respectively. Figures for the first quarter of the year show car sales dropped 38.6 percent to 64,514 in comparison with the same period a year earlier. Car dealerships have become more aggressive in offering discounts in a bid to stoke buying interest in the sector. The credit crunch, along with cautious investors thinking twice about the purchase of large-ticket items, has resulted in a sharp deceleration in trading activity in the sector. A recent decison by the Economy and Finance Ministry to cut registration tax by up to 50 percent is also seen as encouraging motorists to trade in their old car for a new one. The cut will apply for the next four months – until the start of August – and is budgeted to cost the government an estimated 200 to 300 million euros. Motorists with an eye on the higher end of the market will be able to save up to 4,400 euros on their purchase due to the measures. NSS data also showed that Toyota took the top spot in car sales for the first three months of the year, selling 5,457 vehicles; second place went to Volkswagen, which sold 5,186 cars, while Opel came a distant third with sales of 3,940 cars.