The earlier forecast that over 300,000 vehicles would be sold in Colombia in 2011 looks like it will prove accurate if second half sales continue to follow the trend of the first six months of 2011.

Even though sales fell a little last month (from 28,205 in May to 27,030 in June), the 158,217 first half tally mirrors what is happening in the Colombian economy and with consumer sentiment.

According to the Colombian statistics service (DANE), the economy grew 5.1%, 1.1% more than expected by analysts, and, according to Fedesarrollo – a private economics research organisation - consumer confidence also grew.

Consequently, automotive sales have grown 48% YTD, for a record first half. The most improving segment was trucks (+71%), followed by microvans (70%), passenger cars (59%), pickup trucks (52%) and SUVs (34%).

Locally assembled brands took 41% market share.

Chevrolet, the biggest assembler had 33% overall; Renault, 16%; Hyundai, 9%; Kia, 8%; Nissan, 7%; Toyota, 4%; Mazda, 4%; Ford, 3%; Volkswagen, 3%; and Dodge, 1%.

The most improving brands were: Citroën, 140%; Ford, 121%; Porsche, 108%; Nissan, 104%; Peugeot, 94%; Volvo, 81%; Skoda, 77%; Fiat, 74%; Seat, 73; and Renault, 58%.

The premium segment grew 42% to 2,990 units sold in the first half, led by BMW, 38%; Audi, 22%; Mercedes Benz, 24%; Volvo, 11%; Porsche, 2%; Land Rover, 3%; and Jaguar, 0.1%.

Last month, Colombian minister of transport, Germán Cardona, said that any vehicle sold here after 2013 must be equipped with ABS brakes, ESC and at least front airbags.

Last month, several new models were launched in Colombia: Peugeot 107 and 308, Audi A6, BMW 6 series cabrio, Range Rover Evoque, Ford F-150 Ecoboost, Great Wall Haval 5 and Subaru Impreza XV.