Italian new car sales fell 8% in March but volume in March last year was helped by buyers rushing to act before the end of an incentive scheme.


According to Reuters, citing Italian transport ministry data, Fiat sales fell less than the market, down 2.3%, thanks to new models, taking its market share to 28.7%, up from 27% a year ago but down from 29.1% in February.


Reuters noted that car sales in March last year jumped almost 30% as Italians flocked to take advantage of the final days of a scheme that gave tax breaks on more eco-friendly cars, a scheme introduced to prop Fiat up during its deep crisis.


“The fall is only due to the comparison. The market is holding up, thanks to strong demand for diesel, lower prices, the offer of low rates on instalment payments and a rich range of new models,” Gian Primo Quagliano, head of auto body CSP, told Reuters.


According to the report, sales of the Fiat marque fell 3.2% in March against last year when it was offering extra incentives on its old Panda and the Seicento while Lancia sales fell 1.9%, and Alfa gained 2.8%.


Noting that French carmakers stole market share from Fiat, while the Turin-based company was struggling with an old model line and a slump in sales, Reuters said they lost ground in March, with Peugeot and Renault both down more than 30%.


On the other hand, Mazda, which has launched an aggressive advertising campaign in Italy, including sponsoring Roma soccer club saw sales rise 167% to give the brand 1% of the market compared with 0.4% a year ago, the report added.