Italy’s 2009 car sales said to match those of 2008 image

Italy’s 2009 new car sales will match those of last year, the industry ministry said on Wednesday, signalling a pick-up in the next six months after a 10.7 percent fall so far this year.

“Thanks to government incentives, there is a significant recovery in car sales underway,” the ministry said in a statement. Italy’s new car sales fell 13.36 percent in 2008 to 2.16 million units. In the first six months of the year, new car sales totalled 1.128 million units, down from 1.263 million a year ago.

Italy’s primary car maker Fiat has said it plans to stop auto production at one factory in the country from 2011 as it reorganises to cope with the crisis currently hitting the car industry worldwide.

Fiat has taken a 20 percent stake in Chrysler in return for helping to turn the ailing U.S. car giant around, partly by introducing its technology for environmentally-friendly engines.

Government incentives for vehicles using such engines have helped contain falls in auto sales in Italy and elsewhere.

The industry ministry said the outlook for industrial and commercial vehicles was not so bright, however.

“The fall in sales (in this sector) is still very steep without any significant signs of recovery,” the ministry said.