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Puerto Rico car importer group forecasts low sales this year

By on January 17, 2019

SAN JUAN – The president of Puerto Rico’s United Automobile Importers Group (GUIA by its Spanish acronym), Ricardo García, said Thursday that new-car sales on the island are expected to drop 16.6 percent this year.

The estimate is that “about 90,000 units will be sold,” García told the press. “We are not projecting an increase like last year, but rather the other way around,” he added.

Last year, he said, 107,941 cars were sold in Puerto Rico.

“That was an increase of 28.4 percent over the 84,080 sold in 2017,” he said. “After [Hurricane] Maria, there was a lot of investment, or I should say, a lot of federal money that came from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] for the recovery of the country and that boosted the economy and insurers,” he added.

García explained that the forecast is from a study commissioned to learn consumers’ potential behavior. “The projection is due to the current local market scenario,” he said.

Regarding banks and their help to provide vehicle financing, he said, it “has been very aggressive” in favor of borrowers.

García, who is also the general manager for Fiat Chrysler Automóviles Caribbean, said SUV and pickup truck sales in Puerto Rico reflect that these are the most sought after at the dealerships.

“As an example, the drop in the price of fuel has been a factor. The engines are more efficient–the turbo engines, the diesel engines, the ones that save more gas,” he said.

GUIA is an independent, nonprofit created in 2006 to address issues directly related to the automotive industry, as well as issues related to the general economy of Puerto Rico. Its members represent 23 car brands and more than 96 percent of new-vehicle sales in Puerto Rico.

García made his remarks during GUIA’s first seminar of 2019, the fourth in a series titled “Investing in Puerto Rico: The Driving Force for our Future Growth.”

Among those who attended the seminar were Jon Borschow, chairman of Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization; Aurelio Alemán, CEO of First Bank; and Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy Rivera.

GUIA’s next seminar is slated for May 23.

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