Automobile Sales Rebound in June
SAN JUAN — After a brief, two-month decline, sales of new automobiles in Puerto Rico increased in June. From the 6,817 units sold in May, the market enjoyed a healthy jump of 1,561 additional vehicles from one month to the other. June’s total of 8,378 vehicles sold also marks a 5% increase over the 7,979 sales during the same month in 2016.
Year-to-date (YTD) sales also reflect an increase for the local market. As of June 30, a total of 41,314 vehicles had left dealer lots versus 40,263 during the first half of 2016. The 1,051-unit advantage so far this year is good for a modest 2.6% growth.
Despite the positive results in YTD sales, the market has been ambivalent. The year began with a strong 13.6% surge in January. Likewise, both February and March enjoyed steady increases, but then April took a negative blow of 16.1%. Sales decreased yet again in May, but only by a slight 0.2%.
“For quite some time, we have been sailing in uncertainty. We need actions that stimulate economic growth to see a steady recovery in the industry,” said Ricardo García, president of the United Group of Automobile Importers of Puerto Rico (GUIA by its Spanish acronym), when he addressed May’s results.
This month, though, even with June’s positive results, García and the group he represents still have a somber outlook. “We are worried with what can happen during the second half of the year,” he said. His preoccupation comes from the fact that the most recent boost was the result of fleet sales. “The growth during this month was due to a 134.1% increase in the minivan segment, plus 40.8% in pickups, and another 16.5% in subcompact sedans,” he explained. “In great part, these are the results in vehicle purchases from companies for their fleets.”
In fact, the rollercoaster-like monthly results have been due in part to the performance of the fleet market. In May, fleet sales plunged a whopping 22.3%, but a 2.7% increase in retail leveled the month to a tiny 0.2% contraction. GUIA’s worry for the second half of the year stems from the fact that fleet business tends to be seasonal. “Historically, these purchases decrease from now until the tourist winter season,” García explained.
The market’s top performers for the first six months of the year are Mitsubishi and Infiniti, both with a 31.4% increase in YTD sales; Volkswagen with 24.9%; Toyota 12.8%; Audi 9.3%; Honda 8.0%; Jaguar 4.8%; Ford 3.3%; Nissan 3.2%; and Lexus 2.0%.
An out-of-the-ordinary growth percentage was experienced by Volvo with an astounding 1,000% increase. Thanks to a new distributor and the brand’s relaunch on the island, the Swedish brand saw sales jump from eight units during the first half of 2016, to 88 from January to June of this year.