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Ford eliminates shift at Almussafes plant, cuts production to two models from five.

Spanish Sales Down Amid Consumer Caution

Uncertainty about whether to purchase an internal-combustion-engine car or an electrified vehicle is likely to cause further contraction of the Spanish market this year, according to industry associations and unions.

MADRID – Light-vehicle sales in Spain are falling, and industry and union officials blame government policies that are causing consumer hesitancy.

Sales declined 6.3% in May from prior-year and were down 3.9% year-over-year through May, according to Wards Intelligence data.

Uncertainty about whether to purchase an internal-combustion-engine car or an electrified vehicle is likely to cause further contraction of the market this year, according to Spanish

industry associations ANFAC, FACONAUTO and GANVAM and the UGT and CCOO unions.

The government is preparing to launch a €45 million ($51 million) incentive program called MOVES that will offer €5,000 ($5,700) subsidies for the purchase of electric cars or light-commercial vehicles. Consumers seeking the subsidy must scrap their existing vehicle if it is more than 10 years old.

Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are not eligible.

ANFAC President Jose Vicente de los Mozos says the MOVES plan doesn’t do enough to encourage the renewal of a national fleet whose average age is 12½ years and is calling for an increase in total annual EV subsidies to €200 million ($228 million).

Electrified vehicles represented less than 1% of new-vehicle registrations in Spain in 2018. Uptake of EVs has been slow because of high prices and limited charging infrastructure. The few thousand that have been sold are imported; none of the country’s 17 auto plants builds an EV.

“Spanish auto plants must diversify the models they assemble in accordance with the new mobility, but it must be defined what mobility Spain wants,” de los Mozos says.

Uncertainty about future mobility in Spain is mainly due to the five mobility laws and 54 air-quality plans currently promulgated by the regional and municipal governments.

Government statistics show Spain’s vehicle-manufacturing industry directly employed 248,100 people at the end of third-quarter 2018, but 17,100 were laid off over the following six months.

One automaker alone, Ford, has announced it is closing a 1,700-worker plant in Wales, laying off 5,000 employees in Germany and ending car production in Russia altogether.

In Spain, Ford is eliminating the third shift at its Almussafes plant and suspending production of three of the five models built there. The automaker and its unions are negotiating the number of third-shift workers who will be assigned to other shifts and how many will be laid off.

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