The 2011 Auto show was held this weekend. Most people would opt to buy a brand new vehicle as opposed to a used vehicle and for those with the money, or just the dream, the auto show featured brand new vehicles, from the most expensive to the less expensive. Pie Marin from Belize Diesel told us that due to the economy, there has been a significant decrease in sales of brand new vehicles. People are going for used ones as opposed to new ones. In fact, statistics show that there has been a 60 percent down turn in the purchasing of new cars.

Pie Marin, Belize Diesel
I can give you some statistics, for example in 2008, Belize Diesel sold about three-hundred fifty Toyotas and the overall market was eight-hundred fifty cars, meaning that all the new car dealers sold about eight-hundred fifty. From 2009 Ė 2011 the market has contracted to about three-hundred fifty new cars overall. So the dealers are selling much less and it is a sixty percent contraction and thatís because of the economic downturn, so the confidence level is down and people are saying that if they buy a new car and engage in a five year loan, will they still have a job in the next two years and will their business still be able to afford this and as you know everyone is cutting down expenses. So we think that the new car sales is a very good indicator of what is happening in the economy, because people will only buy new cars when the economy is good, but when itís bad that is the first thing that gets cut.

Marin says that even though the interest for the consumers has gone down, the interest rates for businesses still have not decreased. This has had an adverse effect on the industry and Marin says that GOB can do a lot to save the industry by lowering the import duties.

Pie Marin
The mark ups are high because the import duties are high, for instance for R4, you would be paying sixty-six percent to sixty-seven percent in taxes, so by the time you put a mark up on that it adds up. On a Land Cruiser, the duty is almost a hundred-thousand dollars which is eighty-eight percent. So what we are asking as an industry is to drop the duties to twenty percent and pickup trucks that are paying ten and take it up to twenty, but if that is not something that can be done in the short term, then in the short term we can get some type of exemption and fifty percent off the import duty now would help each dealer to sell, even though if they make a profit or donít make a profit at the end of the year, thatís up front. As to the staff, they pay income tax and social security so in every single way even the loan that you get from the Bank that pays duty the point government is getting money, so itís time for them to say ďListen guys for you to survive, Iíll give you something because if the industry strives and progress, Government gets more of the action.

Marin went on to say that with the current economic climate they are doing special promotions on the diesel vehicles.

Pie Marin
Well we are still promoting the diesel vehicles, the diesels are the ones that gives the best lineage. In our Toyota lineup, we have the Helix Diesel 2012 and we brought in this year the Pries, which is the Hybrid Electric car and that gives fifty miles per gallon. The taste of consumers are still the same; the people that are looking for a work vehicle are still looking at pickup trucks because itís better value for money and the pickup trucks only pay ten percent. The Prado is still our best seller, but we know that there has been a rise in the used car market, because people are looking at savings and we are introducing cars now that are for more affordable.