HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish new car sales will leap nearly 20 percent from last year to 140,000 in 2003 thanks to changes which have slashed about 10 percent off the prices of new cars, the sector's information center said on Thursday. The government eased taxation of new cars -- the second highest in the European Union after Denmark -- earlier this year, prompting thousands of Finns who had been waiting for such a move to go shopping, said Matti Porho, head of Finnish automobile lobby AKL.
Last year, Finns bought 117,000 new cars. The last time car sales reached nearly 140,000 vehicles was in 1990, The Finnish Information Centre of Automobile Sector said in a statement.
The center did not give forecasts for individual brands.
In the first seven months of the year, Toyota topped the list of new car registrations in Finland with a 15.4 percent market share, followed by Volkswagen with 12.1 percent and Ford with 8.5 percent, according to the Finnish Vehicle Administration.
"The increase of sales has boosted the employment outlook of the automobile sector and at least 700 new jobs will be created in the sector this year," Porho said.
The increase of new cars also would bring down the average age of vehicles on Finnish roads -- 10.5 years and the highest in the European Union, compared with 7.5 years in Germany -- the center said.