Organizers struggled Thursday to save this year's Barcelona auto show after major automakers pulled out of the event due to the economic crisis.
ANFAC, the Spanish auto manufacturers association, told Automotive News Europe on Wednesday that its 17 members had decided not to take part in the show, which is scheduled to take place from May 9 to May 17.
ANFAC's decision came after General Motors, Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan and others announced plans to skip the show this year because of cost-cutting measures and the weak state of the Spanish market.
A spokeswoman for Barcelona's FIRA exposition center said Thursday that organizers were talking to car companies that are not bound by the ANFAC decision, and have not yet pulled the plug on this year's event.
"We are still talking to carmakers including members of ANFAC and importers," the spokeswoman said. "For the moment, the event has not been cancelled."
Spain's only annual show is held alternating years in Barcelona and Madrid.
New-car sales in Spain dropped 28.1 percent in 2008, to just 1.16 million units, the lowest level in a decade, according to ANFAC.
ANFAC President Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz said that new car sales could suffer a further 23 percent drop in 2009, down to about 900,000 units.
With three days left in January, new-car sales are down almost 40 percent, said Garcia Sanz, who is head of procurement for Volkswagen group and chairman of Seat, VW's Spanish subsidiary.
To counter the downturn, ANFAC urged the Spanish government to make available additional aid to the automotive sector, beyond the 800 million euros offered earlier this year for employee training and investments in green manufacturing and technologies.
The "exceptional situation" facing the industry requires "exceptional means," Sanz said.