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.