CARACAS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Vehicle production in recession-hit Venezuela fell 72.5 percent last year to a paltry 19,759 units, national automakers organization Cavenez said on Saturday, the worst performance on record.
Like other private businesses in Venezuela, carmakers have said the socialist government’s currency controls have stopped them from importing essential components due to restrictions and delays in purchases of dollars.
Sales of new cars fell 76 percent from 2013 to just 23,707 units, Cavenez added in a report.
Automobiles are just one sector of many clamoring for the release by President Nicolas Maduro government of more dollars for imports. Maduro says unscrupulous businessmen exaggerate their needs so they can flip dollars on the black market for profit.
Venezuela operates three exchange controls: 6.3 bolivars per dollar for preferential goods, and around 11 and 50 for other sectors via two Central Bank mechanisms.
The dollar is trading at about 175 bolivars on the black market, according to illegal websites that track it.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, the Iveco unit of Italy’s CNH Industrial NV, the Mack unit of Sweden’s Volvo and Mitsubishi Motors Corp all operate in Venezuela.
Various carmakers have suspended or slowed output at times due to parts shortages, labor disputes and the national economic slowdown. Car output in Venezuela reached a record 172,418 units in 2007. (Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)