SPAIN: Eco car sales to more than double by 2012

By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 November 2007

Spain's eco-friendly car sector is set to boom and could account for 17% of the Iberian country's car market by 2012, fuelled by government tax cuts aimed at jump-starting the segment, a leading industry official told just-auto.

In 2012, Spain could sell 309,987 eco cars, 17% of a sales forecast 1.82m units. That compares with 120,000 or 8% of the 1.6m cars sold in 2007.

Faconauto counted all cars that emit less than 140g/km of CO2 including small and mini-segment diesel-powered cars, flex fuel, hybrid electric and compressed gas (CNG) models when crunching the numbers.

New legislation (from January) to promote low-emission cars waives registration duties for vehicles that emit less than 120g/km and charges 4.75% for cars emitting 120g/km-160g/km of CO2 - down from 6%-12% before. On the other hand, it charges a much higher rate (14.75%) for those emitting more than 200g/km.

Vives expects the initiative to help propel the market and the promising outlook has seen manufacturers scramble to produce more models.

Dealers, too, are rushing to adapt their businesses to meet an expected flood of demand once the tax benefits go into effect.

While Ford, Saab and General Motors are rushing to sell flex-fuel and gas-powered cars in Spain, industry observers said the country's limited filling station network is hampering growth.

So far, the best-selling eco cars are diesel-powered mini models such as the Smart VI (which consumes two litres per 100km) and the Volkswagen Lupo (which can do 100km on three litres). Hybrid models such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid are also gathering momentum, observers said.

But the eco-car market won't take off unless the government does more to develop Spain's limited pump network.

"The ministry has no plan to develop a pump network and this needs to happen urgently," Vives warned. "If drivers can't fill up these cars, what's the point of having them?"

The automobile industry also needs to pitch in, Vives added.

"Manufactures need to grab the bull by the horns if they want to develop this market. They will have to invest in technology and launch more [programmes] to help promote these vehicles and their infrastructure," he said.

Faconauto reiterated claims that the best way to cut transport-related emissions is to launch a more ambitious Prever (trade-in) programme to phase out older and more polluting vehicles from Spain's roads.

The initiative should also introduce higher incentives for drivers who want to swap their old car for an eco model, Vives said.

Spain must also extend the eco-car development package to the regions, encouraging city halls to introduce tax incentives to reward the vehicles' drivers.

"There is no real environmental consciousness in Spain so anything that helps this to develop would be a very good thing," Vives concluded.

Ivan Castano