Yet further evidence of the pressure the Spanish auto industry is under was provided by Ford this week, when the company said it has planned for 21 days of stoppages at its Almussafes plant in Valencia in the first half of 2009.

The move is a response to slowing sales, the company said, and will affect 5,177 employees. It will not, however, result in job losses.

The Spanish car market is coming under increasing pressure as demand slows.

Nissan has been facing demonstrations from workers in the country over plans to axe 1,680 jobs there. Under the Japanese carmaker’s plans, 27.5% of its 6,100-strong workforce will be cut in Spain amid other measures to boost efficiencies. It will make 130,000 vehicles in 2008 compared with 193,000 in 2007.

Meanwhile, the president of the Spanish subsidiary of French automaker Renault has said that he believes sales of new cars in Spain during the last quarter of 2008 will be about half of the figure for the same time last year.

“During the final three months of the year, we calculate that the market will experience a decline of between 45 and 55% over the same period in 2007,” Jean-Pierre Laurent was quoted by AFP saying on the sidelines of an economic conference.

As reported yesterday on just-auto, the Spanish government is set to unveil an economic stimulus package aimed at tackling rising unemployment in the country. The plans of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are likely to include measures to support the country’s struggling auto industry.

However, Zapatero warned that any plan for the auto industry would have to fit in with European Union initiatives.

“We will make efforts up to where we can legally,” said Zapatero. But he added that Spain could not act “outside the lines marked by the European Union.”

Spanish auto production fell some 26% in October on the same month last year to 206,919 vehicles.

In a statement, the Spanish auto manufacturers association ANFAC said: “The abrupt drop in production in October is explained by the slowdown in European markets which have posted six consecutive months of decline and by the bad situation of the Spanish market.”

Exports from Spain fell 20% in the month, whilst domestic sales fell 40%.

ANFAC estimates that Spanish plants will produce 300,000 fewer vehicles this year compared to 2007, a fall of 10.3%.