Spanish car sales rise for seventh consecutive month

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MADRID (Reuters) -- New-car sales rose 10 percent in Spain in March from a year earlier, registering the seventh straight monthly increase as government subsidies boost demand, industry association Anfac said today.

A total of 79,929 cars were sold last month, Anfac said. Sales rose 18 percent in February.

Under the government subsidy scheme PIVE, buyers of new cars who turn in an older car receive a 2,000 euro ($2,800) rebate, half from the state and half from the car dealer.

The subsidy has been extended four times.

"Spain stands out in the European context thanks to the (subsidies) plan," Anfac spokesman David Barrientos said. "The next few months are when most registrations happen and will be critical to securing the recovery."

Car sales to corporate fleets rose a healthy 24 percent in March and 7.5 percent for the quarter, while the awakening consumer market showed a low-cost bias.

Registrations jumped by two-thirds for Renault's no-frills Dacia brand and 44 percent for Hyundai, almost doubling for affiliate Kia. Fiat brand also outperformed Spanish demand growth thanks to a 14 percent gain.

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