Puerto Rico new car sales totaled 88,175 units in 2014, down 12.3 percent versus 2013, and representing the lowest level of sales since 2009, members of the United Automobile Importers Group said Wednesday.
José Ordeix, president of the organization known as GUIA for its initials in Spanish, also said December sales totaled 9,533 units, representing an 11.7 percent drop in comparison to the same month in 2013.
“Even though sales closed below our expectations, we recognize that we’re operating in a reduced market, which is why the automotive industry has strengthened its service options and will continue to collaborate alongside manufacturers, banking and insurance industries, also the government, to keep our feet on the ground and strengthen this important market,” Ordeix said during a news conference.
The Nissan executive attributed the sales drop to a number of issues, namely the downgrade of Puerto Rico’s bond ratings, a warning passed on to local banks by federal ratings agencies that they too could be downgraded and problems plaguing public agencies, all of which “contributed to sustaining a very heavy environment.”
During the meeting with members of the media, GUIA compared the most recent statistics against 2009 results, when sales stood at 76,477 units.
As for what’s down the road for 2015, GUIA members predicted that this year’s sales will be similar to 2014, based on several market factors: the reduction by 15 percent of vehicle excise taxes effected by the government in November; the drop in oil prices; and, low interest rates.
“Those three positive indicators that impact the automotive market, and assuming nothing changes radically, should lead to a similar level of sales this year, of about 88,000 units,” Ordeix said.
“We expect monthly fluctuations, which is normal for an unstable economy,” he added. “And it’s possible that there will be situations beyond our control, but if that were to happen, we would review our projections, just as we did last year.”
GUIA is an independent, nonprofit organization that was created in 2006 to address issues related to the automotive industry, and Puerto Rico’s economy in general. GUIA members represent 96 percent of the island’s new vehicle sales, spread out across 22 brands.