MADRID - Rising fuel costs have slowed growth in Spain. Prices for gasoline and diesel have climbed by more than 9 percent since the start of the year.
'Strong increases in fuel prices during the first six months of the year have negatively affected the growth trend in vehicle sales,' said a Mercedes-Benz Espana spokesman.
Mercedes-Benz Espana's January-June sales totalled 235.6 billion pesetas (E1.3 billion) -up 8.9 percent on the first-half of 1999. That was nearly half the growth of 15.6 percent in the same period of 1999 over 1998, the company said.
The Spanish new passenger car market as a whole grew by 5.4 percent to 761,052 in January-June 2000.
Citroen is a major success story in Spain. The country's No. 1 model in the first half was the French carmaker's Xsara, with sales of 55,127. The Renault Megane was second (54,957) and the Seat Ibiza third (41,979).
Diesels took 53 percent of the Spanish market, with Citroen the top brand in this field, ahead of Seat.
Lancia and Chrysler/Jeep both increased sales by more than 60 percent in the first half. Jaguar soared by 83.75 percent.
With the exception of Toyota and Nissan, there were disappointing performances from the Japanese carmakers. Mazda (-44.4 percent), Mitsubishi (-20.75 percent) and Honda (-11.7 percent) all declined.
Reflecting a similar trend across Europe, the Ford brand fell 14.3 percent in the January-June period.