STAFF REPORTER THE sales of new vehicles in the Balearics fell by a sharp 45 percent last month, slightly above the national decline of 42 percent. The automobile industry has been watching trade slowly drop since last summer but last month's plummet in sales has sent alarm bells ringing on concession forecourts across the region.

In January of last year, for example, 2'104 new vehicles were sold in the Balearics. Last month, vehicle concessions managed to shift just 1.152 models.

The biggest fall has been in the purchasing of company cars.
Private vehicle purchase fell by 32 percent last month, but professional trade collapsed by just over 72 percent.
Spanish car sales fell by 41.6 percent in January versus a year earlier to leave car makers desperately in need of aid similar to that announced in other European countries, industry association ANFAC said.

Spain's rate of sales decline slowed from December's 49.9 percent drop, but in absolute terms, January's sales were considerably worse than those of the preceding month. A total of 59'835 cars were sold last month, down by over 12'000 from December, as Spain's recession mauled spending by heavily indebted consumers. ANFAC said government measures announced so far, including loans for people who want to buy new cars to replace older, more heavily polluting models, were insufficient.