By on October 20, 2012

After travelling to IranJapan, and Russia over the last week or so and having a peak at what cars the wealthiest Americans buy, let’s cross the Caribbean see to land in Puerto Rico today.

Don’t feel like white sandy beaches and impossibly warm waters? No worries. You can discover the best-selling models in 168 additional countries and territories in my blog. Or look at a more general view of the US market with the Top 277 best-selling models in the USA over the first 9 months 2012

Back to Puerto Rico.

The first striking thing about the Puerto Rican car market is how well the Japanese manufacturers are doing and how, well not so well the Americans are faring…

You can check out the See the Top 200 best-selling models in Puerto Rico here *

But before I go any further, I can hear a few of you in the back asking whether Puerto Rico is actually a country. In fact Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Caribbean Sea and home to 3.7 million inhabitants. The Puerto Rican new car market is very dynamic with 93,687 registrations over the Full Year 2011 (+1 percent), 8,300 in September 2012 alone (+9 percent) and 72,781 over the first 9 months of 2012, (+13 percent). One of the particularities of the car landscape in Puerto Rico is the weakness of most American manufacturers (Chrysler, Dodge, Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Lincoln) with the exception of Ford and Jeep, and the strength of Japanese and Korean carmakers.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is the most popular car in Puerto Rico by far, both in September with 698 sales and 8.4 percent share and year-to-date at 6,592 units and 9.1 percent. It is followed also in both rankings by the Toyota Corolla with 491 sales and 5.9 percent this month and 4,500 and 6.2 percent year-to-date.

Mitsubishi Lancer

Contrary to mainland USA where it is stuck around #150, the Mitsubishi Lancer is extremely strong in Puerto Rico, ranking #3 in September at 423 units and 5.1 percent share, ahead of the Hyundai Accent (vs. #78 in the USA) and Jeep Wrangler (vs. #29).

Suzuki SX4

Another model selling poorly in the States (#169 in September) but amazingly well here is the Suzuki SX4, mainly in its sedan version, at #6 this month with 192 sales and 2.3 percent. The Toyota Prius C is also much more popular here than in the US, up to a fantastic 8th position in September at 186 units and 2.2 percent. The Kia Rio and Nissan Rogue round up this month’s Top 10.

Toyota Prius c

Other great performers on the island include the Ford Fiesta at #15 (vs. #85), Kia Sportage at #18 (vs. #109), Suzuki Grand Vitara at #24 (vs. #225), Hyundai Veloster at #25 (vs. #104), Mitsubishi Outlander at #30 (vs. #196), Ford Ranger at #48 (vs. #244) and Scion iQ at #53 (vs. #189).

Mitsubishi ASX

Notice also the Mitsubishi ASX (sold as Outlander Sport on the mainland), ranking #12 with 1,494 sales and 1.2% year-to-date, which would seem to indicate that Puerto Rican sales are counted separately and not included in the monthly US sales data…

Conversely, some strong sellers in the US don’t hit the mark here: the Honda Accord is #23 (vs. #4), Toyota Camry #27 (vs. #3), Ford F-Series #33 (vs. #1) and Chevrolet Silverado #152 (vs. #2). Finally, notice the Dodge Dart enjoying its very first month of sales on the island in September at 13 units, and available sales figures for prestige brands such as Maserati (8 sales year-to-date), Lotus (7) and Ferrari (6).

You can check out the See the Top 200 best-selling models in Puerto Rico here *

Top 10 best-selling models in Puerto Rico – 9 months 2012:

Pos Model Sep % USA
1 Toyota Yaris 698 8.4% 163
2 Toyota Corolla 491 5.9% 9
3 Mitsubishi Lancer 423 5.1% 144
4 Hyundai Accent 346 4.2% 78
5 Jeep Wrangler 203 2.4% 29
6 Suzuki SX4 192 2.3% 169
7 Nissan Versa 187 2.3% 46
8 Toyota Prius C 186 2.2% n/a
9 Kia Rio 172 2.1% 100
10 Nissan Rogue 171 2.1% 28

You can check out the See the Top 200 best-selling models in Puerto Rico here *

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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13 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Puerto Rico No Compre Americano...”

  • avatar

    Looks almost predictable for a less wealthy place than the U.S.A. and a place with fewer freeways. I wonder what a state by state breakdown of the 50 in America would look like? Could we pick out the poorer states by observing the mix?

    • 0 avatar

      NAH, actualy is more by descrimination starting with the gov. I explain my self, same job but less amount of hours in a diferent state than florida is almost dobble. second, city’s that won’t produce money in big amounts like newyork NY, newjersey NJ, tampa FL ect ect have so much better roads, streets, free ways and over pass. why??? again GOV. Racism in usa? who said that? by the way, you startit it. good day!

  • avatar

    interesting idea

    You’d have to do it in percentages otherwise states like North and South Dakota would be easy to pick out.

    But keep the stats names hidden and see if we could figure out which state is which.

    maybe 4 states at a time and see what we could figure out based on the types of vehicles sold. That would be fun.

  • avatar

    It would also be interesting to track percentage of new vs. used on the road. Just sampling new vehicles would mask the rural areas in favor of urban. Could you tell Illinois from, say, Massachusetts solely from new car sales? But rural people IMHO tend to keep vehicles longer with better maintenance. So, including used vehicles, Illinois would swamp Massachusetts. You’d at least get a better idea of the size of a state by including used. Then the mix of new vehicles could help further filter results.

  • avatar

    491 sales. wow what a story.

  • avatar

    So Puerto Rico gets the new Ranger and we don’t! Bullshit!

    This list makes perfect sense, in countries with less disposable income, you go for the sure thing. If they sold any Chrysler Sebring convertibles in Puerto Rico, Chrysler may never sell a car there again.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      New Ranger? Where’d you get that from?

    • 0 avatar

      “If they sold any Chrysler Sebring convertibles in Puerto Rico, Chrysler may never sell a car there again.”
      Chrysler seems to be selling quite a few Jeeps there, and while I agree the Sebring was wretched, the closely related Mitsubishi Lancer seems to sell well.

      Most of the cars on this list seem to be cheap to buy, and cheap to run. Small cheap cars seem to be key in a market like this – American cars like the Cadillac CTS and Jeep Grand Cherokee are certainly competitive in their market segments, but somehow I can’t see them selling too well in Puerto Rico.

      Now that the American makers have competitive small cars, I wonder if they will try to break into this market in a bigger way?

  • avatar

    Guys, as a Puerto Rican born and raised on the island, I can tell you there are a couple of reasons that Detroit brand vehicles haven’t sold well:

    Historical reason #1: Puerto Rico used to (back in the 80’s and earlier) charge an excise tax on cars based on weight and displacement, like they do in Europe. Back in the day, what would pay more: the Toyota weighing under 2500 pounds with a 1.5L four, or the Ford weighing 3600 pbs with a 5.0L V8? And this was during the Malaise Era… no brainer for the Toyota.

    Current (and historical) reason #1: Most non-highway roads in PR are fairly narrow (an artifact of the Spanish colonial days), and parking is usually not easy to find. A F-150 is at a severe disadvantage here, compared to a Yaris. Couple that with the city driving conditions that prevail over almost all the island…

    Current reason #2: Last time I checked (about 18 years ago), the excise tax for new vehicles is 20% of MSRP up to $20,000 and 40% of the MSRP over $20,000. Turns a $40,000 truck into a $52,000 one, and island average income is considerably lower than even the poorest state in in the US.

  • avatar

    What he said. Driving in PR was interesting. Roads were rough compared to the mainland, but better than some other islands. Think poorly maintained US roads. There are occasional drainage culverts in the roads, like a reversed speed bump. I still wonder how the guy with the 930 and low air dam drives around. If I lived in PR (lovely place, definitely worth a visit, cheapest airfare in the Caribbean) I’d have a small SUV based only on the roads.

    Also, there’s little fast driving. Around town is old roads, and even on the highways, you are on “island time”.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    no need for highway cruisers there, just solid, reliable, not gas hogging small cars.

  • avatar

    Can you supply some analysis as to why the Mitsubishi Lancer, Suzuki SX4, Mitsubishi ASX sell so well relative to the states?

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