New car registrations in Spain fell last year by 13.4 percent to 699,589 vehicles, the lowest level since that statistic began to be compiled in 1989.

According to data released Wednesday by associations of automakers and car dealers, the low annual figure was exacerbated by an especially poor December when new vehicle registrations plunged by 23 percent.

Peugeot was Spain's market leader in December with 4,485 vehicles registered, while Volkswagen was the top automaker in the Iberian nation for all of 2012 with 62,490 car registrations.

Car manufacturers said a government vehicle subsidy program that took effect in October helped somewhat to mitigate the sharp decline in vehicle sales.

Spain's auto industry has been battered by a long-running economic downturn.

The Spanish economy remains hampered by the fallout from the collapse of a long-building housing bubble and the Iberian nation's unemployment rate now stands at more than 25 percent, representing 5.7 million people out of work. EFE