Colombian car sales in May were off 10.4% year on year (from 27,339 to 24,488) but that was nonetheless the second best monthly tally for 2013 so far.

YTD, the decrease is about 13% (from 134,082 to 116,639) versus this time in 2012. This parallels a faltering economy now forecast to grow 4.4%, down from 4.8% earlier, according to finance minister Mauricio Cárdenas.

Reasons: slowing exports of lower prices for raw materials (oil and mining). The government has taken some measures already such as devaluing the peso against the US dollar from 1,800 to 1,900 in the last month.

Colombian currency appreciation in the last five years has hit the local CKD kit vehicle assembly industry which is less competive against importers of CBU models. Ten years ago, the assemblers' market share was about 50%, now it's just 29%.

Added to this, as Michelin announced it would close its two tyre manufacturing facilities in Colombia, Chevrolet, Renault, Mazda and Hino met government officials last month to ask for help. They got softer interest rates and a promise to study other measures to regain their momentum. 

Not that the premium imported segment has noticed much. These brands are growing at a rate of 25% and, in the first five months of 2013, took 2.8% of market share, up from about 2.3%.

Mercedes Benz, with 896 units sold and 27.9% of segment share, was top followed closely by BMW (884, 27.5%); and Audi (822, 25.6%); trailed by Mini (212, 6.6%); Volvo (186, 5.8%); Land Rover (155, 4.8%); Porsche (53, 1.7%); and Jaguar (2, 0.1%). 

The government is taking some countercyclical measures like infrastructure investment but is delaying implementation which explains why the trucks segment is the worst performer: sales have fallen 50% YTD. All other vehicle segments, apart from SUVs (+18.5%), are falling: pickup trucks, -33.9%; vans, -19.7%; buses, -12.9%; passenger cars, -12.0%; and taxis, 5.5%.

First quarter sales saw the top 10 like this: Chevrolet, 24,361 units sold (26.4% market share); Renault, 12,142 (13.2%); Kia, 9,053 (9.8%); Hyundai, 8,490 (9.2%); Nissan, 6,549 (7.1%); Ford, 4,490 (4.9%); Toyota, 4,312 (4.7%); Mazda, 2,829 (3.1%); Volkswagen, 2,186 (2.4%); Suzuki, 1,151 (1.2%).