WARSAW, Poland -- Polish new-car sales dropped 32 percent year-on-year in September, hit by strong imports of used vehicles and the continuing effects of tax and price changes after May's European Union entry, a report showed on Wednesday.
Poles bought 20,571 new passenger cars last month, only 1.4 percent up on the August holiday period and the lowest result in five years for September, private car market research agency Samar said.
Total sales in the first eight months of the year were up just 0.5 percent at 255,655 units, with the positive effects of a strong first four months fading fast and full-year sales now unlikely to top 2003, Samar said.
"This is not a momentary breakdown, but rather a renewed crisis. The main reasons are new rules on VAT, a gradual price rise and an uncontrolled, overwhelming increase in used car imports," the agency said.
Since early May the Polish market has been flooded by a wave of used cars, often more than 10 years old, after the removal of trade barriers with the European Union.
Before joining the European Union May 1, Poles also rushed into new car purchases to take advantage of legal loopholes that allowed them to avoid a 22 percent value-added tax by registering passenger cars as cargo vehicles.
Sales have likewise been hit by producers bringing prices closer to those in neighbouring Germany and other EU states.
The market leader remains Fiat, with 43,150 cars sold to date this year, 2.9 percent up on the same period in 2003.
It is followed by Volkswagen's Czech unit Skoda, with 31,867 units, up 2.5 percent, and Toyota, with sales up 3.8 percent at 28,710.