New car sales in Venezuela fell 50.5% in 2003, compared to 2002, due to a steep economic recession in the OPEC nation, the Venezuelan Automobil Chamber (CAVENEZ) reported, according to Reuters.

New vehicle sales totalled 63,726 in 2003, down from 128,623 during the previous year while December car sales rose to 7,152 compared to 1,627 in December of the previous year, when the country was gripped by a crippling two month strike that petered out in February, the report added.

Reuters noted that the anti-governent strike briefly cut off production by the world's fifth-largest crude oil exporter, which has been battered by two years of political turmoil and a steep economic downturn, but the government expects growth of around 6.5% this year.