BOGOTA – The Colombian automobile market is facing “difficult times” and could close out this year with a drop in sales of 14 percent, the president of General Motors in the South American country, Jorge Mejia, said on Monday.
“Currently, the market is going through difficult times, with a fall in sales of around 30 percent over the past 18 months,” said Mejia at an event commemorating the 60 years of operations of GM Colmotores attended by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Mejia warned of a “decline in the number of per capita vehicle sales,” an indicator that currently stands at 5.2 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants while the South American average is more than “double with 11” vehicles per 1,000 residents.
Responding to journalists’ questions, Mejia said that although per capital automobile consumption in Colombia is “very low,” this represents a “great opportunity” for growth in the sector.
Regarding sales, he said that “they’re falling by 17 percent” and last year sales figures contracted by 13 percent, meaning that there has been “about a 30 percent” reduction over the past two years.
He said he expected overall vehicle sales to close out the year being down about 14 percent.
Mejia said that the signing of a peace pact between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas, “if it comes quickly, without a doubt that’s going to be an element that generates a little more confidence and calm” so that the country “can get started growing as it should.”
The peace process, which was launched in November 2012 with negotiations between the parties in Cuba, is in its final stages and a signing of the peace pact is said to be imminent, a move that would put an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia.
In his speech at the event, Santos emphasized that Colmotores “is the largest assembly plant” and only manufacturer of vehicles in the country, with almost 70,000 units sold last year, representing a 25 percent market share.
“The company is going through a difficult time, the assembly plants in general and the economy. But there are reasons to be optimistic,” Santos said.