MEXICO CITY — The head of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association blamed economic uncertainty in Mexico for a 3.6 percent drop in light-vehicle sales in 2007. Sales dropped to 1,099,878 from 1,141,193 in 2006.
Association President Cesar Flores Esquivel said total light-vehicle sales to the public last year were only a few thousand higher than in 2004.
He blamed much of the downturn on the "uncertainty generated by the country's fiscal reform and the gasoline price rises, which were announced but not implemented."
The fiscal restructuring, approved by the national congress late in 2007, will raise $11.4 billion in new tax income for the government.
Other factors behind the sales decline include a drop in consumer confidence in the behavior of the national economy and the "credit saturation" reached by consumers, Flores said.
The 2008 market "will be complicated," said Adolfo Hegewisch, managing director of Toyota Motor Sales de Mexico. "I don't want to talk about crisis or pessimism. I don't think the factors are there to talk about pessimism."
Toyota sold 66,208 light vehicles in Mexico in 2007, up 10.2 percent. "Our plan is to sell 73,000 vehicles in 2008," Hegewisch said. That would be a 10.3 percent gain.
Flores said imported used vehicles from the United States also "undoubtedly affected the new-vehicle market in Mexico, especially in the low-price and minivan segments." He added that it had been estimated that during 2007, more used vehicles were imported than new cars sold in Mexico.
In December alone, new light-vehicle sales in Mexico fell to 126,365, down 10.0 percent from a year earlier.
Sales by market leader General Motors slid 6.0 percent in 2007 to 230,402 units. Nissan Motor Co., the No. 2 seller, posted a 6.2 percent drop. It sold 214,121 vehicles.
Ford Motor Co. barely kept its No. 3 ranking. Its sales fell 16.7 percent to 156,613, while sales at No. 4 Volkswagen AG dipped 3.3 percent to 153,836.
Chrysler LLC was the only automaker in the top five with higher sales last year, rising 0.1 percent, or 95 vehicles, to 128,541.
Mazda Motor Corp. reported the best growth among automakers with sales of more than 10,000 in Mexico. Mazda sales more than doubled to 16,604 from 7,495 in 2006.