New-car sales in Spain rose 2.1 percent in March to 128,175, despite a big drop in diesel registrations and two fewer working days, according to industry association ANFAC.
The market was propped up by an 11 percent increase in sales to business customers which offset a 3.3 percent decline in private sales. Sales to rental companies increased by 1.8 percent.
Sales in March were bolstered by "huge volumes of last-day self registrations by dealers who tried to reach the ambitious targets set by carmakers," said Raul Morales from the dealer association FACONAUTO. "This accounts for the artificial growth of the companies channel," he said.
Sales of diesel cars fell 27 percent to a 35.9 percent market share, down from 49.8 percent in March 2017. Sales of gasoline cars rose 30 percent last month to a 59.3 percent market share, up from 42.2 percent in March 2017.
The Volkswagen brand had the highest sales in March despite a 1.3 percent decline in volume. Renault took the second place but also suffered a 4.7 percent slump. Peugeot was third after a 10 percent increase, beating Nissan whose sales were up 6.7 percent. Seat increased sales by 3.4 percent.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had a good month with Fiat brand recording a 21 percent rise, while Jeep volume jumped 73 percent, buoyed by the recent launch of the Compass.
Ford sales were down 12 percent, Opel fell 5.6 percent and Renault registrations were down 4.7 percent.
- Download PDF, above right, for Spain's March and 3-month sales
Asian brands has mixed results. Honda posted a 40 percent leap in sales, while Mazda's volume jumped 35 percent. Kia was up 14 percent and Hyundai rose 12 percent. Nissan gained 6.7 percent and Toyota was down 12 percent.
Among German premium brands, Audi's registrations fell 10 percent, Mercedes-Benz's registrations rose 3.9 percent and BMW was up 3.1 percent.
Overall sales in the first quarter rose 10 percent to 340,311.
Despite a slowdown in growth, sales are still predicted to rise to 1.3 million this year, up from 1.23 million last year, said Tomas Herrera, head of the dealer association GANVAM.