New car sales up 28.4% in ’18, when 107K+ units rolled off P.R. lots

Puerto Rico’s new car sales received a significant boost last year, when a total of 107,941 units sold, compared to the 84,080 units sold in 2017, representing a 28.4 percent increase.

However, the United Automobile Importers Group, known as GUIA for its initials in Spanish, predicted that this year, the industry will see a reduction in sales, back down to 90,000 units.

Among the considerations factored into this projection are the delay in the delivery of federal funds that were allocated after Hurricane María, but not yet disbursed, the progressive decrease in population and the economic contraction. The conclusions were included in a study GUIA commissioned, representatives said.

Last year, fleet sales represented 11.8 percent of total vehicle sales, with some 12,712 units, an increase of 26.3 percent over 2017. The SUV segment increased in 2018 by 42.4 percent compared to the previous year. The commercial vehicles segment — which includes pickups, mini vans and vans — reflected an increase of 50.9 percent in 2018 and the sedans segment grew 11.1 percent, both in relation to the previous year, GUIA confirmed.

“2018 was a pleasant surprise for the industry, which had not reached 100,000 units sold since 2013,” said GUIA President Ricardo García.

“However, given the forecast for 2019, a year full of challenges is what awaits us and would seem to confirm our concern that we were in a short-term economic bubble,” he said.

“We trust in the industry’s resilience and the usual backing by government entities and financial institutions to continue supporting and facilitating the island’s economic growth through an industry that impacts more than 30,000 jobs,” he said.

“The industry is ready to grow, and we will be working for the benefit of our clients with more strength and determination,” García said.

 GUIA is an independent, nonprofit organization created in 2006 to address issues directly related to the automobile industry, as well as Puerto Rico’s general economy. GUIA members represent 23 auto brands and more than 96 percent of total new vehicle sales in Puerto Rico.

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