The Colombian economy endured a mild recession in 2009 and GDP grew just half a point, according to Banco de la República – the central bank. This resulted in car sales not falling as much as forecast late in 2008, after the global credit crunch hit, when pundits predicted a 2009 debacle.

Instead, Econometria statisticians reported total industry volume down 15.7% to 185,128 units for the year with trucks faring far worse (-42.9%).

Passenger vehicles took 55.8% of the market and fell 13.5%; Pickup trucks and minivans both fell almost 25% but taxis grew 4.1%.

The 10 brands were: Chevrolet (as usual) with 66,764 sales and 36.1% share; Renault, 27,752 (15%); Hyundai snapping at the French automaker's heels with 23,998 (13%); affiliate Kia displacing Mazda from fourth place with 11,110 units and 6.0%; Mazda, 10,495 (5.7%); Nissan surging past Toyota with 7,220 units and a 3.9% share; Toyota, 6,212 (3.4%); Volkswagen, 5,399 (2.9%); Ford, 4,649 (2.5%); Mitsubishi, 2,029 (1.1%), and BMW, 1,600 (0,9%).

The top 10 best improving brands were: Seat (+1,736% after restarting operations here last year); Dodge (which resumed operations in September 2008, 245%); Fiat (with a new importer since last February, 103%); Volvo, 77%; Mini, 51.5%; Jaguar, 31%; Hyundai, 10%; Kia, 8%; DongFeng trucks, 6.7%; and Renault, 2.1%.

Analysts have forecast 10% growth for 2010; that means a Colombian market of about 205,000 units.