The sixth month of 2010 saw 20,382 new vehicles sold here in Colombia, a record for June, and, if the trend continues, could see a full-year tally of 220,000 units, the second best year ever.

Strong sales can be explained by two factors: the 'continuity candidate' won the recent presidential election, reinforcing internal - and external - confidence in the economy and pushing the US dollar back below COP 1.90.

This near-to-10% revaluation made both completely built up (CBU) and CKD kit unit imports for local assembly more competitive and, given local content of about 25% on the Colombian assembled vehicles, prices are at least stable if not lower than some few months ago.

Last month's tally of 8,473 was the highest the assemblers have achieved in a month since 2008 and was up 19.3% year on year. Importers' and assemblers' market shares currently are 58.7% and 41.3% respectively.

“In the first half, total sales reached 107,060 vehicles, a growth of almost 25% year on year but 11.3% less than [the record in] 2007 and just 3.4% lower than in 2008 [the next best year],” said Juan García, executive director of Econometria’s automotive committee.

First half 2010 top 10 selling brands were: Chevrolet, 35,930; Renault, 15,675; Hyundai, 11,667; Kia, 9,385; Mazda, 6,039; Nissan, 5,630; Toyota, 5,036; Volkswagen, 3.097; Ford, 2,247; and Ssangyong, 990.

Second half sales are expected to get a boost from the Bogotá motor show in November and the introduction of zero tariffs on vehicles imported from Mexico due to the automotive agreement signed recently between the two countries [there's also one between Brazil and Mexico - ed].

Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen and Ford all have factories in Mexico so their products will be imported into Colombia at very competitive prices.

Top growth in June was achieved by Fiat, 233.6%; Kia, 126.9%; Dodge, 125.3%; Ssangyong, 119.5%; Audi, 116.8%; Nissan, 95.1%; Toyota, 93.2%; BMW, 66.4%; Jeep, 63.3%; and Subaru, 48.2%.

Last month saw the launches here of just two new models: Kia's Cadenza and the Chevrolet Spark.