Vehicle output in crisis-hit Venezuela less than 10 a day

The corporate logo of Ford is seen at a Ford branch in Caracas March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) - Vehicle production in recession-hit Venezuela has plunged 86 percent in the first half to less than 10 units a day, national automakers organization Cavenez said on Monday.

A paltry 1,550 new units were manufactured between January and June - the lowest production on record - compared with 10,922 during the same period last year.

With other manufacturers virtually paralyzed, Ford accounted for all but 75 vehicles produced in the first half. Last year, it negotiated a deal with the government to sell vehicles in U.S. dollars.

Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, the Iveco unit of Italy’s CNH Industrial NV, the Mack unit of Sweden’s Volvo, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp all have operations in Venezuela but have reduced them to a minimum.

Like other business sectors in the South American OPEC nation, carmakers say the socialist government’s currency controls are preventing them from importing essential components due to restrictions and delays in purchases of dollars.

President Nicolas Maduro blames an “economic war” by political foes for the parlous state of Venezuela’s economy, and accuses unscrupulous businessmen of exaggerating their needs so they can flip dollars on the black market for profit.

Venezuela operates two exchange controls: 10 bolivars per dollar for preferential goods, and around 640 for other sectors. The dollar goes for about 1,000 bolivars on the black market.

Venezuela’s car output reached a record 172,418 units in 2007. Cavenez said sales of locally-made cars fell 85 percent in the first half to just 1,593 units.

Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Andrew Hay