The island country of Jamaica, located in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea, includes a population of 2.9 million people and an employed labor force of 1,219,700 as of October 2018, despite gradual declines in commercial vehicle registrations since 2015.
The country’s top exports are aluminum oxide, aluminum ore, hard liquor, refined petroleum, and coffee, with the top export destinations being the United States, Canada, Germany, Russia, and the Netherlands. Jamaica’s top imports are refined petroleum, cars and parts, crude petroleum, packaged pharmaceuticals, and other foods and beverages, with the top imports coming from the U.S., China, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, and Mexico.
The country had a GDP of U.S. $14.77 billion in 2017.
The political climate in Jamaica is currently stable, and the country’s strong tourism industry and tightening labor market is expected to support economic growth in 2019.
Jamaica’s Automotive Market Stats
The number of new commercial vehicle registrations or sales in Jamaica has been on a steady decline in recent years, from 3,600 in 2015 to 3,100 in 2016 and a further reduction to 2,920 in 2017. This decline is also reflected in overall passenger car sales, from 2,300 in 2015 to 2,000 in 2016 to 1,892 in 2017. The decline resulted from fewer used-vehicle imports to the country.
In 2018, overall, 7,836 vehicles were sold, with ATL Automotive — a dealer group in Jamaica — garnering 31.9% of the total market share, followed by Toyota Jamaica (29.4%) and Stewart’s Automotive Group of Companies (22.2%). This represents a shift in the market share, as Toyota Jamaica previously held the top spot.
The country imports a large number of Japanese used vehicles, including Japanese commercial vehicles. Popular vehicle models in Jamaica include the Toyota Axio, Nissan AD van, Honda CR-V, and Toyota Voxy.
Jamaica Auto Market Conditions
In 2018, the used car pre-shipment inspection process increased the cost of imported vehicles. Suppliers, however; stepped up to help offset the increasing costs.
John Ralston, chairman of the New Car Dealers’ Association of Jamaica (NCDAJ) told the Jamaica Observer in January that “new cars and trucks will do well in 2019” and that “there is a need for commercial vehicles.”
The NCDAJ will be pushing electric vehicles in 2019. The organization will also be touting the benefits of buying new cars as interest rates trend downward.
The government of Jamaica is actively working to lessen vehicle emissions in the country by implementing new fuel efficiency regulations and policies.
The United Nations Environment Programme-Global Fuel Economy Initiative Jamaica Project, launched in 2015, has led to decreased vehicle emissions as a result of the organization promoting more fuel-efficient vehicles and strengthening fuel quality standards.
“We have fuel octane, and we have ultra-low sulphur (fuel), which puts Jamaica at the cutting edge … because not many of the countries in the region have been using ultra-low fuel,” said Project Manager Ruth Potopsingh to the Jamaica Information Service News.
With record high fuel prices in Jamaica in 2018, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) will be made available for wider use in the country. Several organizations are working to promote and offer LPG in 2019, including GB Energy Jamaica (to span the Texaco network) and GasPro (partnering with Excel Motors).