Revaluation of the Colombian peso against the US dollar has seen it back to the same high level of September 2000, bad news for exporters but very good for importers.

Though year to date car sales are up 47.3%, last month things slowed - off 11.2%, according to Econometría Consultores, statistician to the Colombian Automotive Committee.

A week of holidays in April - when the whole country almost stopped - slowed sales. To make things worse, the education ministry announced two weeks ago that the second half of the year will see a similar recess for school and university students, which would slow the whole country's production for another week this year.

Those worried about an overheated economy are maybe too alarmist but the question is still being asked: when is the bubble going to burst? Is auto production near to its full installed capacity? Is the economy growing beyond its capacity? To calm people's fears, the economists say GDP is still growing but inflation is double that expected due to a rainy season that flooded some food crops and bumped up prices.

While all this is happening, car sales have reached 80,690 units, with GM-Colmotores leader (as usual) with 30,919 vehicles sold (38.3% market share). Renault, Hyundai, Mazda and Toyota follow and their total sales (29,347) were almost the same as GM alone.

In the April sales chart, 10 Chinese brands now have 3.0% of market share. They are led by Hafei, which has launched its Lobo minicar, and are followed by Chana, Chery, Saic Wuling, Jac, Changhe, Zong Xing, BYD, JMC and Great Wall. There are some others, like Dongfeng - recently launched - but they still don't show up in the committee stats.

Other industry launches during April were: Renault's Scénic 2.0, the Jeep Compass and Kia's Carens Rondo.

Juan Vargas