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Argentine light vehicle registrations increase nearly 19 percent in first quarter

06 April 2018 Stephanie Brinley, MBA
Argentine light-vehicle registrations reached 81,994 units in March and 265,372 units in the first quarter, an 18.7% year-on-year (y/y) increase, according to the country's dealers' organisation, ACARA. With the strong sales in early 2018, IHS Markit forecasts a full-year increase of 11.4%.
 
IHS Markit perspective 
  • Implications: Argentina's growth in light-vehicle registrations continued in March, but slowed to 9.0% y/y from February's 16.5% y/y. Although Argentina remains a market dominated by passenger car sales, demand for SUVs grew 30% in March and captured a 17.7% market share.
  • Outlook: After a 26.9% y/y gain in 2017, light-vehicle registration results compiled by Argentine dealers' group ACARA indicate continued strength in early 2018, with demand growing 18.7% y/y over the first quarter. With the strong results in early 2018, IHS Markit has revised its full-year forecast; Argentina is now expected to see sales of more than 954,000 units in 2018, an 11.4% increase.
Argentina's light-vehicle registrations rose 9.0% year on year (y/y) to 81,994 units in March, according to data published by the Automotive Dealers' Association of the Republic of Argentina (Asociacion de Concesionarios de Automotores de la Republica Argentina: ACARA). The light-vehicle demand increase in March was less than the double-digit-rate improvements in January and February, but in the first quarter the growth was 18.7% y/y, with registrations reaching 265,372 units. This follows full-year growth of 26.9% to 864,035 units registered in 2017. Although the registrations began 2018 at a frantic pace and the forecast is for registrations to remain strong for the full year, the easing of the y/y gains in March is expected to continue this year. In addition, Argentine light-vehicle sales are typically strong in the first part of the year, with January normally accounting for about 13% of annual sales. The pace of growth in light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations in March was 1.4% y/y, while car registrations grew 11.9% y/y. Argentina remains a market driven by passenger-car sales, which accounted for 74.4% of light-vehicle registrations in March, compared with 72.4% in the same month last year and 71.6% in 2017. Light-vehicle registrations in March comprised 60,977 cars and 21,017 LCVs.
 
The B-car segment remains by far the largest segment in terms of volume sales in Argentina, making up 37.7% of light-vehicle registrations in March and seeing registrations of 30,896 units. The share of the segment is being eroded, however, despite its 22.9% y/y growth in registrations over the first quarter. The segment captured 36.4% of light-vehicle registrations in 2017 and a 39.6% share in 2016, with its share in the first three months of 2018 at 36.1%, assisted by a stronger share (37.7%) in March. The best-seller in the B-car segment in 2017 was the Volkswagen (VW) Gol, followed by the Renault Sandero. In February 2018, the VW Gol had the segment lead, but it fell to fourth place in March; however, the Gol is ahead in the year to date (YTD). Chevrolet's Onix took first place in March, but lost its lead in the YTD. Ford's Ka held third place in March. The C-car segment is the second largest segment, with 8,954 units sold in March, a 13.6% y/y decline. The top C-segment car in March was the Chevrolet Cruze, overtaking the Ford Focus II in the YTD as well. In March, the B-sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment jumped to third place, ahead of the C-pick-up (PUP) segment by only 65 units. In the YTD, the C-PUP segment is in the lead, however, although returning a flat performance. C-PUP sales were down 12.1% y/y in March, while B-SUV sales grew 44.8%. Ford's EcoSport is the most popular B-segment SUV, followed by the Jeep Renegade and Peugeot 2008. In the C-PUP segment, the Toyota Hilux is in the lead. Exclusive of segment, March's registrations saw two Chevrolets in the lead, the Prisma and the Onix, followed by the Toyota Etios, Ford Ka, and Toyota Hilux. In the YTD, the Onix is in the lead, followed by the Toyota Etios, which is narrowly ahead of the Toyota Hilux.
 
Argentina remains a market heavily biased towards passenger cars, although SUV registrations are making inroads into this, with SUV registrations increasing by 121% in 2016 and 51.5% in 2017. In March 2018, SUV sales increased 30.8% y/y, and in the YTD, sales of this vehicle type grew 38.7% y/y. Consistent with the market, the B-SUV segment is the largest of the SUV segments, claiming 57.2% of SUV sales in March, at 8,285 of the 14,481 units registered. The new Renault Duster, a C-SUV entry, ousted the B-SUV Ford EcoSport as best-selling SUV in Argentina in 2017, and has retained that position in the YTD in 2018. In March, the Duster saw sales slip 10.4% y/y, while the EcoSport saw a 78% y/y gain in registrations. In the YTD, registrations of the Duster are up 11% y/y and of the EcoSport are up 49%. The C-SUV segment's sales reached 4,701 units in March, up 12.4% y/y.
 
At an automaker level, VW had the registrations leadership in 2016 and held the lead in 2017, with Renault/Nissan in second place. However, Renault/Nissan had the lead in March, reporting 15.8% y/y growth, compared with second-place VW's decline of 7.1% y/y; in the YTD, Renault/Nissan also has the lead and registrations are up 36.4% y/y, while VW registrations are up 6.8%. General Motors' (GM) sales outpaced those of Renault/Nissan in November and December 2017, but the company remains in third position so far in 2018. In the YTD, fourth and fifth positions are taken by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Ford, though the difference between FCA and Ford is less than 300 units, and Groupe PSA is in sixth place.

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