GM sold 5,350 vehicles in October, its best sales month ever, according to data compiler Econometría SA and the Colombian Automotive Committee.

GM, which markets its cars under the Chevrolet brand, arrived in Colombia in 1981, when Chrysler Corporation sold its assembly plant.

In that decade Renault and Mazda led this South American market, but Chevy became undisputed leader in the 90s.

Nowadays, GM Colmotores sells mostly GM-Daewoo and Opel-designed cars which it assembles locally from CKD kits, as well as Volvo Truck chassis.

It's interesting that GM is maintaining a solid leadership in Colombia (currently 36.9% market share) while struggling to remain top automaker globally.

Chevrolet sales last month in Colombia grew year on year by 22.5% to 43,456in a market up 27.9%.

Econometría reported year to date sales by all manufacturers of 117,848 units and one of the best October results on record - 14,168 vehicles sold (the best result since 1997.

Chasing GM but a long way behind was Renault (18,477 cars sold YTD and 15.8% market share), Hyundai (14,901/12.6%), Mazda (7.844/6.7%) and Toyota (6,109/5.2%).

If the market continues to average 14,000 units monthly over the last two months of the year, 2005 sales will be close to the record of 150,000 sold in 1997, the Colombian car industry's best year ever.

Last month, Toyota, Hyundai and Mitsubishi signed an agreement with Gas Natural, the biggest private CNG distributor, to offer as original equipment compressed natural gas kits installed in brand-new models like the Toyota Land Cruiser (the 80 series assembled in Venezuela), Hyundai Accent (the taxi version) and Mitsubishi minivans.

New models

GM launched the GM-Daewoo designed Chevrolet Optra hatchback with 1.8-litre DOHC engine - it joins the four door sedan launched last year, and now leader of its segment.

Volkswagen launched the new Mexican-built Bora (Jetta) in Colombia, the first time this model line has been sold here. With a standard five cylinder, 2.5 litre 175hp engine (essentially the same specification as the North American versions also made in Mexico), it promises to be a good competitor for rivals like the Mazda 6, Hyundai Sonata, Renault Mégane II, etc.

VW also launched its first taxi model. The new 'yellow' Fox, sourced from Brazil, has enetered a very competitive market segment, where Hyundai rules with the Accent and Chevrolet tries to do its best with an old-generation Opel-designed Corsa.

Juan Vargas