The Romanian automobile market could decrease, freeze or raise by 5% at most this year as compared to the previous year, Romania's automobile producers and importers (APIA) officials declared on Monday, quoted by Romanian news agency NewsIn. Forecasts in late 2007 spoke of a 10% increase for 2008 but this year's evaluation of possible trends take into account the first car registration tax. Both Dacia Renault and Ford sales are expected to suffer most, as the largest car producers in the country.

Last year, Romania's car market grew by 23% as compared to 2006, with sales reaching 367,000 new car units. On the other hand, second-hand car imports in 2007 grew by 4.5% to 123,842 units.

APIA vice-president Brent Valmar declared that the automobile market might increase by 5% this year or, in the worse case, it can freeze or even decrease. He explained that the reevaluation takes into account the first car registration tax.

Dacia vice-president Constantin Stroe warned on Monday that their sales might decrease by 20% as a direct consequence of the new registration tax imposed by the government. He reminded that the same phenomenon took place in Poland where sales of cars produced within the country fell by 9%.

European Affairs Department Chief Adrian Ciocanea declared that the new car registration tax would enter into force by July, 2008. Last week, the European Commission approved the new formula to compute the tax value.