SAN JUAN – The number of automobiles sold in Puerto Rico rose 5 percent during November compared with the same month last year, although year-to-date sales are still 1.2 percent below the same period last year, according to the latest report by the United Group of Automobile Importers (GUIA by its Spanish acronym).
A total 10,503 units were sold on the island last month compared with the 10,001 units sold during the year-ago month, the report states, noting that sales of Japanese automobiles numbered 5,404, or 51.5 percent of November sales. Other best-selling vehicles included Korean brands (2,512, or 23.9 percent), U.S.-made (2,032, or 19.3 percent), and European models (555, or 5.3 percent).
The top-selling brand in November was Toyota, which sold 2,921 units, according to the report, which added that other top-selling brands sold last month included Chrysler (1,354), Hyundai (1,340), Kia (1,168) and Nissan (1,001).
“It’s notable that consumers have visited dealers and have taken advantage of the aggressive brand-name offers during this Christmas season and of the continuing low interest rates,” GUIA President Ricardo M. García said in a press release issued by the group, whose members represent 23 motor vehicle brands and more than 96 percent of new-unit sales in Puerto Rico.
Moreover, automobile leasing sales increased 13.7 percent in November compared with the year-ago month, and are up by 1.5 percent so far this year, García said.
Still, island dealerships sold 94,088 automobiles during the first 11 months of this year—a 1.2 percent drop compared with the 95,239 vehicles sold during the same period in 2018. More than half of year-to-date sales, or 53.2 percent, were Japanese automobiles, while Korean brands sold 22,612 units, or 24 percent, according to the report.
The top 10 selling brands during this period were Toyota (26,726), Hyundai (13,647), Kia (8,924), Chrysler (8,554), Nissan (8,510), Ford (6,822), Mitsubishi (6,295), Honda (5,261), BMW (1,442), and Mercedes (1,243).
Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) made up nearly half, or 47.2 percent, of year-to-date sales, followed by mini-compacts (21.9 percent) and sub-compacts (12.7 percent). In fact, SUVs constituted the fastest-selling segment in November, increasing 19 percent compared to the year-ago month. Other fast-selling segments were mini-compacts (11.4 percent) and sub-compacts (4.1 percent). Compared to the year-ago-month, the segment that saw the biggest decrease in sales were medium-sized sedans, whose sales dropped 79.4 percent, followed by vans, which saw a 47.8 percent drop.
The November increase in automobile sales occurs after April, May, July, August, September and October registered sales decreases compared to the year-ago months. Sales in July registered the biggest drop, falling 21.5 percent. This month saw massive protests that led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The first three months of this year registered sales increases that reached a high of 16 percent in March.
Meanwhile, García called on automobile owners to verify if their vehicles are covered by the recall of airbags made by major parts supplier Takata. Vehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that these airbags were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants.
Automobile owners can verify if their vehicles are affected by entering the website www.checktoprotect.org and entering the vehicle’s 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), located at the bottom of the driver’s side of the windshield, García said, adding that owners can also verify by calling the dealership where the vehicle was purchased. He said that the dealership or an authorized mechanic can replaced the airbag free of charge.
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