Costa Rica

Last modification: 15 Nov 21
Introduction: 

Unlike some of its neighbors, Costa Rica rarely faces periods of violence which end up hindering democratic development. On December 1, 1948, it dissolved its armed forces.

Although the country still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy, developing strongly in the industries of technology and tourism. 

Since 2010, the country has enjoyed stable economic growth. Its standard of living is relatively high for the region and land ownership is widespread.

Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones. 

Costa Rica's economy still faces some challenges though, and this is due to its rising fiscal deficit and public debt, and the relatively low levels of domestic revenue.

 

Thank you contributors of the Guatemala WikiFleet page: ALD Automotive, Wheels Inc., Arrend Leasing

 

Chapter 1: Economic and business environment

Demographics

Population 5.1 million (2020)
up 0.92% year-over-year


source: Worldometers
 

 

Capital

San José (population 335,007)

Major cities

1. San José (335,007)
2. Puerto Limón (63,081)
3. San Francisco (55,923)
4. Alajuela (47,494)
5. Liberia (45,380)

 

Languages

Spanish (official)
English

GDP

US$61.5 billion (2020)
US$61.8 billion (2019)

US$12,059 per capita 

source: Trading Economics

Unemployment rate

15.3% (August 2021)

source: Trading Economics

Main industries

Agriculture and food processing, technology, tourism, medical equipment, food processing, texiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilzier, plastic products.

 

Currency

Costa Rica Colón (CRC)

Interest rate

0.75% ( October 2021)

Source: Trading Economics

Fleet Maturity Index (scaling)

Approximately 64% of multinational companies in Costa Rica offer company's cars to some of their employees.

Political key info

Carlos Alvarado Quesada has been the president of Costa Rica since 8 May 2018. His term will last for four years.

Inflation

0.08% (October 2020)

Chapter 2 : Automotive market, segments & sales

Total Car park

1.5 million vehicles, approximately one vehicle per four inhabitants.  
(
including passenger cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.)

 

 

New vehicle registrations (Cars, LCV, Trucks)

In 2019, vehicles sales fell 7.2% to 36,686 units from 39,530 (source: OICA)
2018: 39,530 units
2
017: 49,412 units
2016: 60,000 units
2015: 52,800 units

Sales of new cars and light trucks average about 50,000 per year, of which some 1% are electric (Source: BNEF)

Top 5 brands (total market)

January-September 2020

1. Toyota (approx. 23% of the market)
2. Suzuki (approx. 12.1% of the market)
3. Hyundai (approx 11.7% of the market)

Other popular brands in the country are Nissan, Honda, and Mitsubishi.

This page will be updated once year-end sales data is compiled.

 

Dealer network (including fleet dealer network)

For new cars, search for your vehicle in cities with a large variety of car dealership brands such as San Jose or Grecia.

Used car market/renewal cycle

Tips for acquiring a used car:

Always check that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) matches the one on the frame of the car. Furthermore, make sure the Marchamo (registration and mandatory liability insurance) and RTV technical inspection are current. These are 2 stickers on the windshield.

Marchamo is paid annually from November 1st to December 31st. RTV inspection has to be done in the month that coincides with the last number on your license plate.

 

Finally, make sure there are no liens or tickets pending in connection with the vehicle. After the seller and buyer sign the deed of transfer, an attorney will then need to send the deed to the national Registry in San Jose to be duly recorded

 

Chapter 3: Company car market

Total Fleet Park (company cars)/Fleet penetration in total fleet sales

Due to the undeveloped vehicle fleet industry, data regarding the current size of the market is hard to come by.

Evolution fleet sales (last 5 years)

In 2019, commercial vehicles sales dropped 5% to 5,861 units from 6,178 (source: OICA)
2018: 6,178 units
2
017: 8,082 units
2016: 11,700 units
2015: 11,000 units

Top 5 fleet brands (fleet market)

Besides best-selling brands for the overall market such as Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, the corporate market in Costa Rica also consists of BMW, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Renault, and Volkswagen.  

Chapter 4: Taxation & legislation

Costa Rica has significant government tax on car imports, an extra cost which can reach 50%-70% of the car's retail value.

The standard Value Added Tax (VAT) on cars, plans, and boats in Costa Rica is 13% for those valued up to CRC 310,000.  
CRC 310,000-1.22 million (1.2%)
CRC 1.22 million -2.42 million (1.5%)
CRC 2.42 million - 3.65 million (2%)
CRC 3.65 million - 4.55 million (2.5%)
CRC 4.55 million - 5.46 million (3%)
above CRC 5.46 million (3.5%)

Chapter 5: Car policies

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Chapter 6: Funding methods

Bank financing is avialable in the local currency, Costa Rica colón, as well as the US dollar. 

There are entities which offer 100% financing for vehicles with leasing being one option. This is more commonly used for a work vehicle or for fleet managers acquring a fleet for a company. 

 

Chapter 7: Fuel

November 8, 2021
Average gasoline price per liter: US$1.15 (world average is US$1.25)
Average diesel price per liter: US$0.97 (world average is US$1.13)

March 1, 2021
Average electricity price per kWh Households: US$0.12 (world average is US$0.14)
Average electricity price per kWh Business: US$0.18 (world average is US$0.12)

Source: https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/

Chapter 8 : TCO components

Initial cost of vehicles

Sedan: CRC 5,450,960 (US$9,621)

Station Wagon: CRC 4,295,257 (US$7,581)

Minivan: CRC 8,593,743 (US$15,168)

Pick-Up 4x4: CRC 12,694,944 (US$22,407)

Consider Remarketing, or selecting a car with a high resale value, is key to controlling TCO.
Cars from Asia (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Kia) usually have better resale value than Ford, GM, and even European brands.  


 

Chapter 9: Safety, insurance and telematics

Safety

Every vehicle that circulates in Costa Rica is required to have a valid inspection sticker. The inspection is carried out by a private company referred to locally as RITEVE; inspection stations are located in various inspection points of Costa Rica. The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that vehicles comply with basic safety standards established by the manufacturer and with the applicable traffic regulations of Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, there is no safety regulation on vehicles being imported. However, according to transportation legislation for public roads, certain requirements are specified and they are far from being considered standards.

In order for vehicles to operate in the country, they must pass a vehicle inspection (IVE) test. This is not mandatory for imports but it is highly encouraged.

The required physical characteristics of vehicles, according to Article No. 32 of the Transit Law, are the following:

  • A horn; High and low beam lights; Brakes; Park, Reverse and Drive gears; Emergency flashers; License plates in excellent condition; Speedometer in kilometers per hour.
  • Front windshield and a rear windshield, as long as the constructive design of the vehicle allows it.
  • Steering wheel or a similar device at the left or center of the cabin which falls in line with the vehicle’s constructive nature.
  • Rear-view mirrors or any other devices that allow the driver to observe the vehicle and the road.
  • Front and Rear Bumpers. Cargo vehicles with rear-end under-ride guards are exempt.
  • Seatbelts of three points or more on all lateral seats and sub-abdominal seatbelts on all remaining seats. However, when the vehicles constructive design does not permit for a three-point belt, abdominal type seatbelts are acceptable. Moreover, seats in public transport vehicles such as buses are exempt for the seatbelt rule, in addition to other types of vehicle such as motorcycles, scooters, and UTVs.

Finally, in the event of a traffic accident, vehicles must remain unmoved until the Traffic Police and the Insurance Investigator carries out the accident report.

Insurance

In Costa Rica, liability insurance is mandatory. While the coverage for death and bodily injury of third parties is required, coverage for property damage of third parties is not.

Chapter 10: Environment

Electric transport is one of the actions Costa Rica has pursued in order to reach its stated goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2021.

To support the plan, Costa Rica adopted a law in 2018 which encourages electric transport with a long-term view to eliminating hydrocarbon-powered vehicles in the country, e
liminating sales, customs and circulation taxes for electric vehicles and allowing them to use municipal parking facilities free of charge.

Meanwhile,
Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) has a 40-station installation plan which calls for installing eight EV recharging stations per year from 2019-2023.

In terms of vehicles, 25% of light vehicles should be zero-emission by 2035 and 60% by 2050 (commercial and government fleets seen with higher percentages). Approximately 70% of buses and taxis are expected to be zero-emission by 2035 and 100% by 2050.

Chapter 11: Mobility

In terms of Uber Latin America, Costa Rica is one of the countries with higher coverage. Others include Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. 

Chapter 12: Key trends to watch