MADRID - Passenger car sales rose 13.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with 1997. Industry forecasters say the Spanish market is on course for 1.1 million to 1.15 million sales in 1998.
Sales rose 15.6 percent in March, partly due to increased buying by rental fleets.
The best-seller was the Renault Megane (22,800 units), which took 8.4 percent of the market.
Renault was the top brand for the quarter thanks to a heavy March. Seat was the leader for the first two months. Seat is up 32.8 percent on the same quarter last year, and had 13.2 percent of the market.
Ford increased its lead over Opel, helped by strong Escort sales. But Volkswagen brand did badly, mainly because of slow Golf deliveries. VW's sales were down 35.6 percent, giving it a 4.4 percent market share.
Diesels accounted for 46.6 percent of all car sales during the quarter. Citroen was the leading seller of diesels, ahead of Seat and Peugeot. Diesels had 41.5 percent of the market during 1997.
Sales of sport-utilities rose 29.4 percent to 15,136 units.