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Puerto Rico Auto Sales dip 4.3% in November

By on December 17, 2015

Down 8.4% for the Year

BY JOSÉ L. CARMONA

After a positive October, Puerto Rico new-auto sales returned to their downward trend in November, the latest monthly sales report by the United Automobile Importers Group (GUIA by its Spanish acronym) revealed last week.

According to GUIA, some 7,061 new units were sold in Puerto Rico last month, down by 320 units, or 4.3%, from the 7,381 units reported in November 2014.

Fueled by a 178.5% increase in fleet sales, new-auto sales in Puerto Rico rose 12.4% in October—so far the local industry’s only positive month of the year.

Fleet sales usually peak twice a year, in the winter and summer months, during the local tourism’s high seasons. For the year, new-auto sales as of November amounted to 72,066 units, down 6,601 vehicles, or 8.39%.

“Last month was the 19th out of the past 20 months that new-auto sales were below the same month the previous year. Fleet sales basically didn’t reflect any changes with respect to November 2014, which are usually spurred by tourism activity,” GUIA President Ricardo García commented.

Some 1,442 fleet units were sold last month, up a mere 1.5%, or by 21 units, versus the same month last year. Meanwhile, retail sales during November amounted to 5,619 units, down 5.7%, or 341 units versus the same month last year.

CONSUMERS SHYING AWAY

Rivera also expressed concern about retail sales at local dealerships. Customer traffic at local showrooms has decreased despite the arrival of 2016-year models, aggressive promotional efforts that include dealer discounts, manufacturers’ rebates and special tent-sale events.

However, the possible reduction in the public employees’ working hours, or a full-fl edged government shutdown seems to have put a brake on consumer spending plans during the critical holiday season.

“Auto sales are logically a reflection of the direction taken by the local economy, including consumption and population trends. Our industry seeks to adapt to the times and therefore, we have been attentive to the retail sector, which so far this year has decreased its market share by 10%,” Rivera indicated.

SUBCOMPACTS, COMPACTS DOMINATE

Last month, the mini, subcompact and compact cars & sport utility vehicles (SUVs) continued to dominate the local market, representing 69.8% of total new vehicles sold last month.

With 1,879 units, the mini segment led the pack, with a 27.7% increase. It was followed by the compact SUV segment, which edged up 5% with 1,854 units. The subcompact coupe and sedan segment moved 1,549 units, down 4.7%. Meanwhile, the compact premium SUV segment jumped 22.1% last month, with 94 units sold.

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