Though Brazil sales are estimated to fall 13% to 19% in 2015, depending on the forecaster’s optimism or pessimism, not all brands will be hit. The market seems more prone to shrinkage in the lower price ranges where the dominant ‘older’ four – automakers established here for decades – are suffering most.
For the first time since the arrival of newcomers in the 1990s, Fiat, GM, Volkswagen and Ford combined are below the symbolic 60% market share threshold. To 59.1%, to be precise, though they added a little market share last month (April 2015). The most recently arrived Japanese and Korean brands have apparently conquered a comfort zone by skipping collective holidays, non-production days or implementing hour banks, lay-offs or buyouts.
Hyundai currently maintains three production shifts with barely any sales reduction: 2.4% compared to its comultative 19.2% global decline in the first quarter. Japan’s Honda, Toyota and Nissan grew 12.5%, 12.4% and 3.4% year on year respectively in the same period.
Oriental prudence aside, according to PWC consultant Marcelo Cioffi, “it has to do with lesser volume brands, with new or revamped products, [thus shielding them from] market ups and downs.”
However, other factors also count. Honda, in particular, will finish building its new manufacturing unit only in 2016 and will sacrifice Civic and City sales in the face of the immediate, and very good market response to the new HR-V.
On the contrary, Nissan has a less pricey range and is likely to have excess local assembbly capacity. But it must depend on government-limited imports from Mexico to grow this year – the automaker estimates “up to 10%” over 2014.
Toyota expects to repeat 2014 volume which will actually increase its market share in a 2015 market expected to be down almost 20%.
Only Nissan plays significantly in the most important and hotly contested BRL30,000/US$10,000 segment. Hyundai, Toyota and Honda contest upper segments which have seen lesser declines of late.
Mitsubishi is the exception with sales recently following the average 19% market slump.