Colombian car sales dipped 4.2% year on year to 19,541 units in January but it was still the second best result for that month on record.

Consumers are waiting for news about last year’s domestic economy before committing to new vehicles and are also hoping the peso's value will fall, leading to better prices.

Sales are nonetheless expected to grow eventually because the central bank has lowered interbank credit rates so it is only a matter of time before commercial banks do likewise. Car sales on credit here account for about 60% of volume.

According to BBVA Research, the Colombian automotive market in 2013 will be around 315,000 units (325,000 for 2014) as the domestic economy grows 4.4% and recently signed FTAs make imported car sales stronger due to tariff falls.

Ten years ago, imported cars represented 50% of sales; last year that rose to 70%. About 68 automotive brands compete for a 315,968-unit market while the Chinese now take 6.6%.

Even though assemblers have lost market share, they sold more vehicles in 2012 (120,332) than in 2002 when the whole market tallied just 90,000. GM finished first in 2012 with 33.5% of market share, Renault second with 20.3% and Mazda seventh with 4.3%; Kia (10.2%) climbed to third place, Nissan (8.8%) is now fourth and Hyundai (6.6%) dropped to fifth. 

But assemblers are recovering their exports since they were virtually cut off five years ago when Venezuela and Ecuador closed their markets. Chevrolet, Renault and Mazda sent 30,700 units abroad with the French assembler the clear leader with over 29,000 units. This represented 40% of Renault's 73,430 output. The Colombian unit’s best market was Mexico which took 13,600 Dusters. Other markets were Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela, central America and Caribbean countries that, besides the Duster, also imported 15,800 Logan and Sandero.

While GM works on a new press shop (that will produce from 2014 11 body parts for both the Cobalt and Sail), it exported some Spark cars and Isuzu trucks to Ecuador (1,300 vehicles). That country also took 120 Mazda 3s assembled in the Compañía Colombiana Automotriz Japanese plant at Bogotá.

The premium segment grew 18% (from 412 units in January 2012 to 486 in January 2013) with Audi leading the ranking with 192 units and a 40% share and growth of 149%. The Ingolstadt brand was followed by BMW (123 units, 25% share and 35% growth), Mercedes Benz (120, 25% and 3%), Volvo (23, 5% and 5%), Land Rover (18, 4%, and 80%), Porsche (9, 2% and 13) and Jaguar (1).