Spanish-based manufacturers are changing their sales predictions. The months of May and June have convinced them that their earlier forecasts were too low.
Although economic problems associated with factors such as rising petrol prices are not over, it appears most European economies have learned to live with it.
Sales in the Spanish market appear to be moving towards 1999's record figure. Some manufacturers attribute part of this rise to daily rental firms that have increased their orders by 10% compared to last year - when they actually reduced their orders by 10%.
Optimistic manufacturers say that first half year sales represent only 48% of the total sales for the whole year. Since the first half year sales in Spain are up by 7%, from what was a record year, many manufacturers are hoping for total yearly sales of 1,450,000 units, an increase of last year's 1,350,000 units.
Fleet sales will also increase. Traditionally, the growth of fleets is always about 10%. For rent-a-car fleets the forecast is about 180,000 units this year, equal to 1999's figure.
In terms of brands, both SEAT and Renault are fighting hard for the top spot, leaving Citroen with the compensation of the best-selling car, the Xsara. For many years, PSA Peugeot-Citroen was the best selling brand but now SEAT, along with Volkswagen and Audi, total more car sales than the French rival.
Ford continues with its policy of profitable sales and follows the others and is in sixth position, following Renault, SEAT, Opel, Citroen and Peugeot. Next is Volkswagen, with strong performances from the Golf and Polo, then Fiat, Nissan and Audi. (July/August 2001)
- Sergio Piccione is deputy editor — motoring for Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo.