Car prices showed a disparate behavior during 2020, a year marked by the quarantine and the worsening of the economic crisis due to the lack of foreign currency. Sanitary restrictions -which forced the closure of plants and paralyzed foreign trade- led to a shift from a supply market to a demand market. This shift in market behavior had a turning point in the increase of the exchange rate gap that generated a peak in consumption by dollar savers who benefited from acquiring 0 km in pesos, fixed at the official value of the currency, with "green" bills that were exchanged in the blue market. This led to a proliferation of surcharges due to the lack of vehicles, aggravated by import barriers, and a demand fuelled by the exchange rate advantage.
Because of all these variables, when measuring the increase in cars, it is necessary to differentiate between official and transaction prices. In the first case, based on the lists that the terminals send to the concessionaires, the increase in the value of the 0 km was located at an average of 40%. That was the behavior of the three best-selling models in 2020. The first place on the podium was occupied by the Toyota Hilux, which had a 52% adjustment in the last 12 months. It should be noted that, in the case of the Japanese brand's vehicle, in addition to having launched a restyling of its successful pickup in November, with improvements in design, equipment and motorization, it has a five-month waiting list due to high demand. This explains the fact that it is at the highest levels of price increase. The second best-selling model was the Chevrolet Onix Joy, which in its most popular version had a 30% adjustment. The third place was for the Fiat Cronos. In this case, the most sold version (1.3 Drive) increased throughout 2020 by 40.8%. The rest of the models that occupy the top 10 sales positions and represent the majority of total operations moved within these parameters.
However, it should be noted that the transaction prices of most vehicles exceeded these levels. In light of the lack of units and the uncertainty regarding replacement times for cars in stock, the law of supply and demand was fully enforced at dealerships. The sale value was marked by what the buyer was willing to pay. In some cases, the surcharge applied to the most demanded models was above 20%. In the case of many imported models, that surcharge was higher. It is very difficult to determine precisely the magnitude of that additional premium that was requested in the dealerships since it depended on the situation of each agency. However, the industry recognizes that, taking these surcharges, the 0 km were sold on average 60% above the values in force in December 2019.
Thus, taking the list price of the automakers, the prices of the cars accompanied the rise of the official dollar in 2020, which was 42%. Taking into account the surcharges, the 0 km increase exceeded the evolution of the U.S. currency. It is also true that, based on the price of the "blue", which last year jumped 110%, the values of the vehicles were adjusted by half of the increase in the parallel exchange rate. This difference between one increase and another explains the benefit. Another variable that can be taken into account to measure the evolution of car prices is inflation. The cost of living rose by 36% in 2020, according to private estimates. The 0 km average was slightly above that index, but market values far exceeded it. The same happened with wage adjustments. Workers under contract to the major unions obtained increases in their salaries of between 30% and 50%.