The United Automobile Importers Group (known as GUIA for its initials in Spanish) confirmed Monday that the downward spiral that Puerto Rico’s car industry has been on this year continued in May, when sales were down 6.7 percent year-over-year.
The independent nonprofit, created in 2006 to address issues that directly concern the automotive industry and Puerto Rico’s overall economy, said sales for the month totaled 7,216 units, down 520 in comparison to the same month in 2013, when 7,736 units found an owner.
Accumulated demand in Puerto Rico for the January-May period totals 36,933 units, reflecting a 6.3 percent drop when compared to the demand on record for the same period last year of 39,400 units, the group said.
May’s numbers continued to uphold a trend of contraction in the island’s auto market, extending the pattern of decline experienced since December 2013. This was reflected both in retail sales, with a decrease of 5.1 percent, and fleet sales, which decreased 29.8 percent, indicating that both the industrial/commercial sector and individual consumers are postponing new car purchases as a result of the island’s depressed economic conditions.
“All sectors of the economy have been impacted and our industry is no exception. At the moment, the sales pattern reflects the possibility that auto sales in Puerto Rico will finish under previous year, in all likelihood by a considerable amount,” said José Ordeix, president of GUIA.
“If this occurs, it would be the second year of the past five years in which sales are reduced compared with the previous year. For this reason, we urge the corresponding government institutions to take into account the impact this could have on the island’s economy and to focus efforts for the benefit of local consumers,” he said.
According to the numbers, American automakers took the biggest dive in May, down by 26 percent, but Japanese vehicles managed to see a slight 3.2 percent growth. Sales of Korean vehicles — Hyundai and Kia — were down 13.3 percent last month, while European cars were down 8 percent.
GUIA members represent more than 96 percent of new vehicle sales in Puerto Rico.