A decrease in export market demand for Colombian products and commodities combined with domestic speculation about car tax reform and the free trade agreement (FTA) with the US – with its consequent fall in car prices - made 2012 one of the most difficult in recent memory for the local auto industry.

Nonetheless, Colombians bought 315,968 new cars, down 2.7% on 2011 and enough for the best second annual sales tally on record.

Average monthly volume between January and October was 26,000 units but the usual boost from the annual Bogotá motor show saw sales climb 13.1% to 29,412 in November and fall back to 26,443 in December.

Top 10 market shares were: Chevrolet, 28%; Renault, 14%; Hyundai, 9%; Kia, 9%; Nissan, 8%; Toyota, 5%; Ford, 3%; Mazda, 3%; Volkswagen, 3%; and Dodge, 1%.

The locally assembled brands (Chevrolet, Renault and Mazda) lost 8% of market share, from 40.5% in 2011 to 32.5% in 2012, due to their products' lack of competitiveness against imported CBU models which benefited from, among other factors, the revaluation of the peso against the US dollar. 

Refelecting a global trend, the premium segment grew 0.3% from 6,570 units in 2011 to 7,201 last year, or 2.3% of the total market.

The premium brand ranking was: BMW, 34%; Mercedes Benz, 29%; Audi, 21%; Volvo, 9%; Land Rover, 5%; Porsche, 2%; and Jaguar, 0.1%. BMW led its segment for the eighth consecutive year.

Major cities accounted for 84.3% of sales overall - this breaks down to Bogotá (46.7%), Medellín (12.8%), Cali (9.3%), Bucaramanga (6.6%), Barranquilla (5.9%) and Pereira (3.0%). But premium segment sales were made 100% in those same six cities: Bogotá (85.1%), Medellín (6.0%), Cali (3.9%), Barranquilla (1.2%), Bucaramanga (2.8%) and Pereira (0,9%).

The reason: wealth is especially concentrated in those six cities so the premium brands' dealers are all there.

Econometria analysts forecast 2013 sales similar to 2012 and under 300,000 units.