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LIFE IN SPAIN

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

buying a car in spain becoming harder
If you're looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up. Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.

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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: Everything that changes in Spain in October 2022

From VAT cuts on heating, a new citizenship law, a change to Spain's Covid travel restrictions, the latest on UK licences, a round-up of festivals and plenty more, become a member to find out about all the important changes in Spain in October 2022.

KEY POINTS: Everything that changes in Spain in October 2022

Spain’s new sexual consent law comes into effect

October 7th brings the enforcement of a government bill toughening the country’s rape laws by requiring explicit consent for sex acts.

In essence, the law reforms Spain’s criminal code to define rape as sex without clear consent. Crucially, that removes the need for rape victims to prove that they resisted or were subject to violence or intimidation.

READ MORE: ‘Only yes means yes’: Spain edges closer to passing new sexual consent law

“Consent is recognised only when a person has freely demonstrated it through actions which, in the context of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the person’s will,” says the bill.

The proposed reform comes after of a notorious 2016 gang rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at the bull-running festival in Pamplona, northern Spain.

VAT cut on gas bills

In yet another bid to ease the pain of the cost of living crisis, the Spanish government has introduced a new cost-cutting measure which aims to decrease the amount both residents and small businesses will pay on their gas bills this coming winter.

The VAT cut, which comes into force on October 1st, will also apply to other items used for heating such as pellets, briquets and wood as the price of said biofuel products has also increased considerably in the lead-up to the winter months. 

READ MORE: How much will Spain’s gas VAT cut save me per month?

Bottled butane gas has not been included in the new measure, but its price have been frozen at €19.55 per canister.

The reduction will mean monthly savings for an average user of between €5 and €19, depending on how much they use and the type of contract they have, according to consumer associations.

Overall, the Spanish government estimates the move will represent a save of €210 million for the Spanish population. 

Clocks change

It’s that time of year again. The evenings begin to get darker a little earlier – and the clocks go back. In 2022, the change will come in the early hours of Sunday, October 31st, when daylight saving time officially ends and winter time begins. To be specific, the change comes at 3:00 a.m. on the morning of the 31st of October.

READ MORE: Why Spain is still in the wrong time zone because of Hitler

Fourth Covid vaccines for the over-80s

October will also see the ramping up of the second Covid-19 booster roll-out for people over 80’s and those in care homes, a campaign which also includes the flu vaccine for those who wish to have it. 

As planned, the campaign has started in all Spanish regions on September 26th, except for in Andalusia, where it will begin on October 3rd.

The vaccines to be used will the new inoculations developed by Moderna and Pfizer against the Omicron BA.1 sub-variant, serums approved by the European Medicines Agency on September 1st. 

In Andalusia the Covid-flu vaccination campaign starts on October 3rd, in Aragón and Navarre on October 10th, in the Balearics on October 13th, in Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia and Castilla y León all on September 26th, whereas in the remaining regions the date for the double vaccination campaign is not yet known.

READ MORE: Spain starts fourth Covid vaccine rollout for over-80s

UK driving licences saga to continue as anger grows

As many of you will know by now, UK driving licence holders who have resided in Spain for more than six months have not been able to drive since May 1st. Five months later and there still isn’t a deal within close sight.

The UK Embassy in Spain is no longer speculating about when an exchange agreement could possibly be reached. The latest update posted on their Brits in Spain Facebook group on September 16th stated that: “We are genuinely making progress on resolving the outstanding points but, for reasons we’ve explained before, we cannot be definitive about the timescale.”

Another Facebook group called “Invasion of the British embassy in Madrid for the DL exchange issue” has since been set up where members are threatening to stage a protest unless the matter is soon resolved. 

Will October bring a major change? Progress may well be made in terms of negotiations but the legislation has to be approved by several branches of the Spanish government before it actually comes into force, and keeping in mind the speed at which bureaucracy in Spain usually moves, it is unlikely to be streamlined in the next 30 days.

Domestic workers law

Following a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) and pressure from trade unions, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez adopted a reform is to introduce a bill aimed at ending the “discrimination” suffered by these workers.

READ MORE: The new rules for hiring a domestic worker in Spain

Under the changes, which come into force on October 1st, domestic workers are now entitled to claim unemployment benefits and cannot be dismissed without justification.

They will also be covered by healthcare “protection” and be able to access training to improve their “professional opportunities” and job conditions.

Grandchildrens’ citizenship law

A law that makes it easier for the children and grandchildren of Spaniards to gain citizenship will be debated in the Spanish parliament in October.

The bill, also known as the Historical Memory Law, proposes that the children and grandchildren of Spaniards (born in Spain) can gain Spanish citizenship without needing to live or be resident in Spain for any minimum period of time.

“Those born outside Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who would originally have been Spanish, and who, as a result of having suffered exile for political, ideological or belief reasons or sexual orientation and identity, have lost or renounced Spanish nationality, may opt for Spanish nationality, for the purposes of article 20 of the Civil Code,” the text of the proposed bill states.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Spain

Covid temperature checks for travellers end

The Covid-19 pandemic is still affecting international travel to Spain – especially if you’re from a non-EU country. 

On Tuesday September 20th, Spain scrapped the requirement from all international passengers arriving by air or sea in the country to complete and show a Covid health control form.

Now, on October 20th, Covid temperature controls and visual checks will be scrapped, sources from Spain’s state airport manager Aena told Spanish daily El Periódico.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

However, it is important to note that non-EU tourists such as Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders still have to show one of three documents to be able to enter Spain, following an extension of the rule until at least November 15th. These are: 

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate –  Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior of departure or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior of departure. 
  • A recovery certificate –  This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status.

Face masks are also still required on planes which are bound for Spain, but you don’t have to wear one at the airport.

Weather forecast

Spain has experienced some extreme weather this summer. With record temperatures, record rains and flooding in the Canary Islands, drought conditions, and flash floods in Murcia, Spanish weather has been changeable and unpredictable in September.

READ MORE: 640 flights cancelled as storm Hermine hits Spain’s Canary Islands

But what’s the forecast for October?

In terms of temperature, the average temperatures are set to be between 4-7 ° C lower than in September, which saw some of the summer heat linger into Autumn. Despite that, forecasts from Meteored suggest that the coming October will be warmer than usual, with temperatures up to 1 ° C above the average.

Expect some rain too as October is normally one of the rainiest in Spain except for a few regions of the country including the Canary Islands, the Balearics, the southern most points of Andalusia and the Upper Ebro.

Forecasts suggest that the rainfall will be primarily focused in the second half of the month, but the southeast and Balearic Islands will experience average rainfall throughout.

What’s on in Spain in October?

The turn in the weather doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on in Spain in October. Zaragoza celebrates one of its main fiestas, the Fiestas del Pilar.

Beteen the 4th and 12th of October, the fiestas of San Froilán de Lugo, one of the most popular celebrations in Galicia also takes place.

October is also a great time for foodies in Spain. Galicia hosts its Fiesta del Marisco (seafood festival) and at the end of the month is Castilla-La-Mancha’s Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafrán.

Elsewhere in Spain, October is an artsy month. In Alcalá de Henares, they celebrate Semana Cervantina – a weeklong celebration of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, and there’s a nighttime performance of Don Juan in Alcalá.

Fuel prices still high but falling

For drivers, you’ll be pleased to know that petrol prices are steadily falling but still nowhere near the level before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The price of petrol has dropped by 20 percent to €1.70 per litre from the €2.15 price it reached in June (before the government discount) but still 12 percent more expensive than before the war began. Diesel prices have fallen by 15 percent to €1.81 on September 24th, before the government’s 20 percent discount is applied.

READ MORE: REMINDER: How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

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