By on August 30, 2013

After California, today we study the most popular cars in another territory of the United States: the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico.

Couldn’t care less about what cars sell well in a Caribbean Island? Rude! But that’s ok because you can check out new car sales data for 176 additional countries and territories on my blog. Go on, you know you want to!

Back to Puerto Rico below the jump!

Kia Rio. Picture courtesy of www.autowp.ruKia Rio

Check out the July 2013 Top 182 All-models and Top 28 All-brands rankings in Puerto Rico here

After two months of decline, the Puerto Rican new light vehicle market is back into positive territory in July 2013, up 2% year-on-year to 8,110 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 57,650 units, also up 2% on 2012.

The Toyota Corolla (7.4% share) and Yaris (6.2%) keep the lead but Kia delivers another outstanding month, #2 brand on the island for the 2nd time in a row thanks to 981 sales and 12.1% share and now #3 year-to-date. The Korean manufacturer places the Rio in third position in the models ranking at 434 units and 5.4%, up one spot on June while the Forte is down 4 to a still excellent #9 and 2.4%. The Toyota RAV4 also excels thanks to the new generation, up 4 ranks to #4 and 3.8%.

Ford Fiesta. Picture courtesy of autowp.ruThe Ford Fiesta manages a spot in the Top 10 in Puerto Rico this month.

Traditionally, US models don’t sell well in Puerto Rico: luck if one manages to break into the monthly Top 10! So in this mediocre context, July is a relatively good month for American manufacturers, with 6 Yankees inside the Top 26 best-sellers this month. The Jeep Wrangler leads the way as usual at #7 (+2), followed by the Ford Fiesta, up an excellent 12 spots to #10, the Ford Escape at #19 (+6), Chevrolet Sonic at #22 (+11), Jeep Grand Cherokee at #23 (-5) and Ford F-Series at #26 (+8). Notice also the Mitsubishi Outlander down 6 to a still very solid #18, the Fiat 500 up an astounding 44 spots to #29, Mazda CX-5 up 8 to #32 and the Scion tC up 34 to #42.

Check out the July 2013 Top 182 All-models and Top 28 All-brands rankings in Puerto Rico here

That’s all for today!

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

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17 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Puerto Ricans “no compran estadounidense”...”

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    It’s not so much that Puerto Ricans are against the idea of purchasing American-brand cars, but more that they are price buyers – and the top selling cars are, for the most part, dirt cheap. American brands are not price-competitive in the small car segment.

    On the other hand, high dollar items such as four-door Wranglers sell decently enough. It’s an interesting automotive market.

  • avatar

    Another interesting thing about the Puerto Rican market is the success of both Mitsubishi and Suzuki. Yes they are cheap, however, so are Kia’s and Corolla’s, yet many customers in PR still choose Lancers and SX4’s. Mitsubishi outsells GM on the island, and Suzuki is neck and neck with GM.

    I wonder if Suzuki’s withdrawal of the US market includes Puerto Rico or not??? I would assume not given the continued success of the brand there.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Suzuki’s done in Puerto Rico as well. All of our vehicles are US spec and have to abide by federal homologation requirements, so if a vehicle brand leaves the US market, of which Puerto Rico is part of, then we lose it.

      As an example, back when the Daihatsu brand pulled out of the US because of poor sales, in Puerto Rico it was selling like hotcakes. Both the Rocky and Charade were doing well. A somewhat similar story with Daewoo, although that brand never became one of the top ones here.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes but Suzuki isn’t selling in Puerto Rico anymore. Sadly due to Puerto Rico being privy to all use customs, rules, etc. Vehicles must conform to FMVSS.

      I guess i’ll throw a story in here.

      The president got funding for a plebiscite in 2014. It will be interesting to see how that goes. There are bunch of Puerto Ricans here in the Hartford area of Connecticut. Its not uncommon to hear Spanish is all public government services are available in most. Lots of speakers code switch between english and spanish. Sometimes in the same sentence!

      My best friend is Puerto Rican but their family no longer speaks Spanish. His mom refused to teach them or to even speak it around them. I didn’t even know she knew Spanish until last year.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow.. blast from the past. I’ve met so many people whose Europe-emigrant parents/grandparents insisted on English-only in their homes.

        That undoubtedly helps the kids mainstream faster & easier but I don’t think losing multilingualism is ever a completely good thing.

  • avatar

    Interesting that the Corolla is a top seller there. Maybe that’s where Toyota can dump all their leftover 2013s.

    Does anyone know what current fuel prices are in Puerto Rico? From the limited information I can find it looks like they sell by the liter which is surprising since it’s kind of part of the U.S.

    • 0 avatar

      All the roads are measure in KMs too. Its because the Metric system was well established by the time the US took it from Spain.

      I hear only the speed limit signs are in MPH due to only being allowed to have us spec cars. I don’t remember the last time i was in a car that didn’t also have kph so I’m not sure why that is an issue. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Selling by the liter is a holdover from the Carter days, when he wanted to convert the US to Metric, combined with the fact that when gas went over $1.00 per gallon when the Iranian crisis ocurred in 1979, most gas pumps over here were older and could not be programmed for prices over .99C. So, someone in government came up with the idea to switch to liters rather than require gas stations to buy newer pumps then, something which would have been highly onerous for most retailers.

      Regular gas (87 octane) sells for about 97 cents per liter and Premium (91) is about $1.07 currently. Multiply that times 3,78 and you get $3.67 for Regular and $4.07 for Premium.

      • 0 avatar

        Makes sense. Too bad they didn’t just keep it that way like Puerto Rico did.

        About what we pay here in Connecticut, though i haven’t bought gas in awhile so its probably more. Whats your price on diesel? It $4.19 a gallon.

        I can use both systems pretty well. My girlfriend lives in a metric only country so I’ve gotten better with everyday use. I refuse to make her understand the dumb system we use, nor does she care since i can do both.

        I wish our gas pumps dispensed in liters and the road signs were in metric too. Then i would never have to use non metric units. I never learned most customary units anyway besides inches, feet, yard, mile, pound, quart, and gallon.

  • avatar

    Cool blog, Matt. Really esoteric, yet interesting, stuff. Exactly what a blog should be :D

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Expensive gas and limited driving distances dictate that small cars rule the roost there and US brands don’t have a very good history in that segment.

  • avatar

    You also have to take in consideration that here in PR, the per capita income is about $16,000, the lowest among USA states and territories. Of a population of almost 4 millions, around half of that, earn the minimum federal wage ($7.25). Factor in the tax system and the involved costs of bringing cars and other goods here and the $12,000 Nissan Versa over there, becomes your $15,000 Nissan Versa here. So small and cheap is what it is.

  • avatar

    I was in Puerto Rico once. Struck me as a happy place with smiling people. A kind of cleaned up and richer Latin America.

    Thanks Matt once again for the fine post.

  • avatar

    Puerto Rico is a lovely island with nice people. I drove around it a few years ago. The roads aren’t great. Once you get off the main roads, you have a lot of winding single lane roads, which can be interesting when the School Bus or Trash truck goes by. Small and Tough cars rule. Old Toyotas are rebuilt endlessly-it is kind of impressive how many are still there. Even though there is no freeze/thaw cycle, the typical road is two lanes with some holes, and oft there are drainage ditches…think an inverse speed bump. Most cars were a bit beat up, and it is NOT a high speed market. I was amazed at the guy who had a 935 styled 911-I figured the low air dam would last about 10 miles.

    If I lived there, I’d buy a small SUV type vehicle-something with ground clearance. The other choice, as made by many is “cheap”, which is why so many swap a lovely view of San Juan for the Bronx…there isn’t much money there and an industrious person will do better in NYC…no immigration hassles so most people we talked to had family in the States and in PR.

    I was impressed by a guy who had an early 60’s Chrysler New Yorker..keeping a car in that environment is tough, between the heat, sun, and salt air. Except for those old Toyotas, most don’t last very long…

    One huge issue about Statehood…as long as PR isn’t a “State”, they don’t pay income tax. I wish I had that choice !

    • 0 avatar

      There is a good reason for the historical disdain for US branded vehicles: the excise tax charged on cars used to be based on vehicle weight and engine displacement. Domestic and imported cars that had the same price in the continental US would have very different excise taxes levied on them, and the sale prices would adjust accordingly, in favor of the smaller bodied and engined foreign imports.

      Also, the current excise tax is fairly steep…
      Example 1: 2013 Camaro ZL1. Base MSRP of $54K, valued by PR Dept. of Revenue at $77K, the estimated excise tax is $24K.
      Example 2: 2013 BMW 328i sedan. Base MSRP of $36K, valued by PR Dept. of Revenue at $48K, the estimated excise tax is $12K.
      Example 3: 2013 Kia Rio EX. Base MSRP of $17K, valued by PR Dept. of Revenue at $21K, the estimated excise tax is $4K.

      See for yourself, Google “puerto rico car excise tax” and the first link is to the PR Department of Revenue web page where you can get the excise tax estimate. With that kind of excise tax, you can see why new cars are a lot less affordable than in the US (plus the lower average income).

      Also, taxes in PR are no bargain, the commonwealth income tax rate is higher than the federal income tax rate.

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