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Local Auto Sales Down 11.7% In January
Unit sales of 9,895 slightly below industry average, market share of SUVs is higher than cars for the first time since May
By JOSE L. CARMONA
February 27, 2003
Special financing deals and manufacturer rebates werent enough to boost local auto sales in January, as consumers concerns over a war with Iraq and higher fuel prices intensified.
With 9,895 units sold (in all categories), auto sales in January were 11.7% lower than the 11,214 units sold in December, according to the latest monthly automobile retail sales report compiled by Plaza Motors Corp. Local auto sales of 10,000 units a month is considered average by the industry.
Sales during the last three months of the year are usually above average, spurred by special financing deals and manufacturer rebates. Although sales usually slow down after the holidays, especially during the first months of the year, uncertainty over a war with Iraq and higher fuel prices kept more consumers at bay in January.
Some local dealers kept their inventories low in January, anticipating that most consumers would retrench. Nevertheless, last months sales were only 1.6% below January 2002s 10,057 units.
Of the total units sold in January, 4,921, or 49.7%, were cars and 4,974, or 50.3%, were sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which include light trucks and minivans. This is the first time since May 2002 that SUVs have surpassed cars in sales. SUV sales dropped dramatically after the implementation of an excise tax increase on SUVs and luxury vehicles last June, but have since been gradually picking up.
Toyota remained the No. 1 brand in sales with 2,310 units (cars and SUVs) sold in January, followed by Ford with 1,255 and Suzuki with 920.
The biggest surprises came from incentives-leader General Motors and Japanese carmaker Nissan, which took fourth and fifth places, respectively, with 888 and 819 units sold. Mitsubishi, which sold 816 units, dropped down to sixth place, while DaimlerChrysler sold 635 and stepped down to seventh place.
The Toyota Corolla remains the top seller in Puerto Rico, with 977 units sold in January, followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV with 351 and the Suzuki Baleno wagon with 335.
In the Japanese luxury car segment, Lexus retains its lead with 76 units sold in January, followed by Acura with 45 and Infiniti with 34.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.