Renault is to step up used car sales in Spain on the back of slumping demand for new models, a company spokeswoman told just-auto on Tuesday.

She said new vehicle sales fell 15% to 150,751 units in the first nine months of 2006. Passenger car registrations plunged 18%, she added.

The gloomy numbers come as new car sales fall in Spain as consumers are pinched by higher interest rates.

Last year, Renault Spain saw unit sales fall 1.1% Underlying profits also fell 40% and revenues 1.8% as global demand for the Spanish-made Modus supermini began to falter.

The spokeswoman refused to provide this year's sales or other financial forecasts. However, in a sign of the dire times, she said Renault plans to expand its used car marketing network "as another alternative to boost sales."

Renault plans to introduce new products next year including the Dacia Logan Break family wagon, the facelifted Twingo mini and the redesigned Laguna.

Renault is one of Spain's best-performing car brands and its Megane line has led sales here in recent years.

Ivan Castano