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Local Auto Sales Drop 15% In July

Year-to-date totals for July still 4.25% higher than last year


August 22, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Auto sales in July were 15% below June totals–further proof that the auto excise taxes put in place by the Calderon administration two months ago did negatively impact local sales.

The July slide comes in the wake of a 24% drop in June sales, following a consumer rush to auto dealers in May before the taxes went into effect.

According to the latest monthly automobile retail sales report, compiled by Plaza Motors Corp., there were 8,462 units (in all auto categories) sold in July–1,508 fewer than were sold in June. Local auto sales of 10,000 units a month is considered average by the industry.

The year’s biggest month so far has been May, with 13,167 units sold. July’s total of 8,462 units was even lower than February’s, which had been the lowest month, with 8,925 units.

Of the 8,462 units sold in July, 4,853 (57.3%) were cars and 3,609 (42.7%) were sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which includes light trucks and minivans. That’s the second month in a row that cars outsold SUVs. In June, 59.6% were cars and 40.4% were SUVs. In contrast, 61.9% of the units sold in May were SUVs, whereas 38.1% were cars.

Off the record, industry sources contend the switch signals a trend toward less expensive, more economical, and fuel-efficient vehicles, an indication that sales of SUVs and luxury vehicles have been affected by the excise tax increases as predicted by auto distributors.

Nonetheless, year-to-date totals for July amount to 71,257 units sold, a 4.25% increase over July 2001’s year-to-date total of 68,353.

Toyota is the No. 1 brand in sales, with 15,675 units (cars and SUVs) sold so far this year, followed by Ford with 9,343, Suzuki with 7,230, Mitsubishi with 6,984, and General Motors with 5,980.

Suzuki moved up to third place while Mitsubishi slipped to fourth place. The Suzuki XL-7 and Baleno models experienced sales increases of 19% and 44%, respectively, compared with the same period last year.

In the subcompact/small-car category, the Toyota Corolla & Matrix, Suzuki Aerio SX, Kia Spectra, Volkswagen Golf, and Honda Civic Si all experienced sales growth in July.

In the compact/midsize category, the Nissan Altima, Kia Optima, Mercury Sable, and Buick Century also showed sales gains. Category leaders–the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord–experienced a slight decline in sales in July compared with June, but still exhibited steady year-to-date sales.

Sales of the Chevrolet Malibu, Mitsubishi Galant, Ford Taurus, Chrysler Sebring, Hyundai Sonata, and Pontiac Grand Prix all declined slightly in July as well.

In the luxury-car segment, practically all models in all categories suffered a decrease in sales in July, despite the fact that their year-to-date numbers are up against the same period last year.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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