Czech car sales fell almost 14 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of the year, from a 12 percent fall in the first half, the country's Car Importers Association said on Tuesday.

New car registrations dropped 13.8 percent in January through September to 133,577 vehicles as the worst recession in over a decade dented consumer demand and pushed companies to cut back or put off new purchases.

Light-utility vehicles, which until March this year had included modified corporate cars under this classification due to tax benefits, fell 65.6 percent to 15,829 in that period.

The third quarter is always a period of some rest among buyers... so when the overall numbers are negative, even a few percentage points drop deepens the loss significantly, said Pavel Tunkl, secretary of the association.

The association said it saw no rebound in the coming quarters, with stagnating sales expected next year.

Among passenger cars, Volkswagen's (VOWG.DE) Skoda Auto kept its grip on market share, but saw it slip to 27.6 percent from 31.1 percent in the same period a year ago. Ford (F.N) and VW were the other top-selling brands. The Czech economy fell a record 5.5 percent in the second quarter, although it escaped from recession with a 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter rise.

However, companies have struggled to win back lost orders and have cut jobs, which has sent the unemployment rate to an over three-year high of 8.5 percent. Analysts expect this to rise more in 2010. (Reporting by Robert Mueller, writing by Jason Hovet; editing by Simon Jessop)