An increase in new-car sales to private customers and higher self-registrations countered a big drop in demand from rental companies in Spain in December.
Jeep, Dacia, Nissan, Mercedes and Toyota showed the strongest growth among volume brands.
Registrations were 105,841 in December compared with 105,853 in the same month of 2019, according to the ANFAC industry group.
The COVID-19 pandemic weighed heavily on the market, with registrations falling 32 percent for the year to 851,211, ANFAC said.
Sales to private customers in December rose by 3.5 percent, and company registrations (including self-registrations by automakers and dealers) increased by 18 percent. But those figures were offset by a 55 percent fall in sales to rental companies, as coronavirus restrictions limited travel and business trips.
A sales rebound in the first half of 2021 is far from certain, industry groups say. According to ANFAC, recovery “will hinge on the evolution of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis,” and could be complicated by an increase in registration tax and the end of a government scrapping program.
The dealer association Faconauto said it does not expect a recovery before 2022.
Spain’s scrapping program, called Plan Renove, expired in December with only 17 percent of the 250 million euro ($308 million) budget actually utilized. The Spanish government has so far declined to carry over the remaining funds to 2021.
The registration tax, which is applied at a CO2 emissions level of 120 grams per km and above, increased for many models on Jan. 1, as emissions values for each car were converted from the NEDC test to the more stringent WLTP procedure, which yields higher CO2 figures. But unlike in countries such as France or Italy, the Spanish government declined to ensure that the change was revenue-neutral.