Vehicle sales in Chile are expected to fall 46% year on year in 2009 as the economic crisis continues to bite.

Figures from the Chilean auto association ANAC said sales of new automobiles, SUVs and light trucks would total 130,000 units in 2009 compared with 239,835 units in 2008.

Ivan Silva, executive vice-president of ANAC, told Reuters: “In recent years sales have been very good, so we are comparing against record sales, so that’s why we are unfazed by the outlook for this year.”

“The important thing about this figure is that it is grounded in the current reality,” he added. “It is also similar to what was sold in 2003 and 2004, when we were not in a crisis, and which were satisfactory and successful results for our sector.”

ANAC also said that sales during across January and February this year had fallen 54.8% on the same period last year earlier to 18,096 light vehicles.