VW Gol Trend
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In 2014, the devaluation of the local currency, rampant inflation and increased taxation supposedly aimed at protecting local production have all combined to incur a 50% surge of the average price of new cars in Argentina (but up to +110% for luxury models), in turn pulling new car sales down 29% to 673,695 registrations. A further tax change for the more up-market models in place from January 2015 means some cars see their price double after tax, and this will certainly not help future sales. Even though the tax increases were originally aimed at high-end vehicles to protect local production – mainly focused on low-end models – against imports, the tax brackets are anything but progressive, meaning large price gaps were artificially created between taxed and non-taxed vehicles, and cheaper cars have seen their price skyrocket to fill these gaps even though they weren’t affected by the tax. This way a Renault Logan can now reach the equivalent of US$23.000.
The graph on the left shows the year-on-year price evolution of the 10 best-selling models in Argentina in December, displaying 50% increases or more even though these models were not affected by the tax increase – an extremely rare situation for any car market in the world. To this situation needs to be added the fact that some locally-produced models (Citroen C4 Lounge, Renault Fluence, Ford Focus, Toyota SW4) are now affected by the higher tax brackets, which has prompted Mercedes to not commercialise in Argentina the Vito it will start assembling locally this year – dedicating it to export markets. According to Ernesto Cavicchioli, vice president of Hyundai Motor Argentina, the new tax changes will mean that “At best many models that are now offered at 240,000 pesos (the new tax-threshold) will see their price increase without having to pay the tax and models that are below them also have more room to go up. The only better alternative if you can not repeal the law is to modify the rates and make them more progressive. In late 2014, more than half of the range of models on the market is missing or endangered. We have an abnormal market that harms all auto consumers of Argentina.” More info (in Spanish) on this hot mess here.
Given the number of factors affecting the Argentinean market this year, it was difficult to expect a quiet year of sales, and agitated it has been. Brand-wise, if Volkswagen holds onto the pole position with 16.6% share by evolving like the market (-28%), the rest of the Top 5 is entirely reshuffled: Ford (-20%) dislodges Renault (-40%) from the 2nd spot, and Fiat (-18%) gains one rank to #4, knocking Chevrolet (-40%) off the podium in the process. Toyota brilliantly gains 21% thanks to the Etios (up 504% to integrate the Top 10 in 2014) but remains in 7th place, while Mercedes (-35%) is the least affected by the luxury tax increase: Audi (-84%) and BMW (-85%) both disintegrate.
The Toyota Hilux is up to a best-ever #2 ranking in Argentina in 2014.
After 4 consecutive years in the top spot, the Chevrolet Classic bows in 2014, dropping 31% to #5. The VW Gol Trend (current generation) takes the relay despite sales down 3% to 29,667 and 4.4% share. The 2014 tax changes advantaged pick-up trucks and Toyota Hilux sales are a clear illustration of this bias: up 1% and 5 spots on 2013 to #2 with 27,635 units and 4% share vs. 2.9% last year. The Renault Clio Mio is down 19% but stays third while the Ford Fiesta Kinetic (+34%), Fiat Palio (+29% and #1 in May and June) and the Peugeot 208 (+55%) are the other stars of the Top 10 in a year that saw 6 different model leaders. The Toyota Etios is #10 for its first full year of sales and the Ford Focus III lands at #12 vs. #25 in 2013 for the previous generation.
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Previous year: Argentina Full Year 2013: Chevrolet Classic #1, Renault Clio Mio #3 in record year
Two years ago: Argentina Full Year 2012: Chevrolet Classic #1, Renault Duster up
Full Year 2014 Top 40 All-brands and Top 165 models below.
Full December 2014 Top 30 All-brands and Top 50 models below.