Efforts by the Brazilian government to stimulate the country's car market seem to have had a positive effect with new registrations reaching 668,314 units in the first quarter of 2009, up 3.14% from the same period of 2008.

The figures from the National Motor Vehicles Registry included cars, buses and trucks.

In March alone new vehicles registrations grew 16.9% to 271,494 units. Local news reports said this was the second highest figures to ever be registered in a month in Brazil.

In December, the Brazilian government introduced a cut in the Tax over Industrialized Products (IPI) for the sector. The cut was due to last three months. However, earlier this week, Brazil said it was extending the measure for another quarter.

It also cut taxes on cement, paint and other construction materials in a bid to revive major sectors in Brazil, Latin America's largest economy.

The government said the measures cost 1.5bn reais (US$645.2m) but would be offset by higher taxes on cigarettes.