Car sales jumped by an encouraging 24.6% in February to 108,438 from 87,057. That took the year to date gain to 20.0% at 190,640 from 158,905. The strength of the market is way above expectations. The February result was not only the best ever for the month by a country mile, smashing the 92,972 of February 1989, it set the annualised selling rate well above 1.2 million, and it is still rising. With the Spanish car market only rarely climbing above the 1 million mark, even the most optimistic forecast did not see a chance of more than 1.2 million units being sold in 1999. Yet on the evidence of the sales results for the past five months running, coupled with strong economic forecasts for 1999, then 1.25 million would now be the lowest that can be expected, and 1.3 million is not beyond reach.

A tremendous surge by the VW Group has catapulted them back to the top of the table for the first time since 1995. The VW Group achieved a collective 30.1% gain to 45,131 from 34,683, despite Audi failing to match the pace. Previous leaders PSA could only muster a 13.8% gain to 42,158 from 37,031 and they already look set for no better than second place in 1999.