Data released by ANFIA, the carmakers’ association in Italy, shows that the new car market declined by 12.3% in February versus year-ago levels, to stand at 197,200 units.

New car sales have been depressed this year as purchases have been brought forward after buyers brought forward purchases into 2001 to comply with new year-end rules on leaded gasoline cars.

The Italian car market has also been the subject of substantial discounting and incentives especially in the second half of 2001, which may have lifted the market then.

Fiat‘s share of the market declined slightly to 34% in February.

The Fiat Punto was the best-selling model in Italy in February, with sales of 20,470 units. In second place was the Fiat Panda with sales of 9,729 units. The third placed model was the Peugeot 206 with sales of 8,417 units.

Fiat Auto’s new boss, Giancarlo Boschetti, forecasts that the Italian new car market will decline by 8-10% this year, with the west European market as a whole declining by 2-3%. He made the projections at a press conference in Geneva today.