Figures released by ANFAVEA show that the Brazilian new car market (wholesale data) grew by 10% in 2001 to stand at 1,277,226 units. However, the market slowed considerably towards the end of the year with the month of December some 4% down on year-ago levels.

Market growth confounds Brazil’s weakening economy that has been hit by an energy crisis as well as some fallout from the severe difficulties affecting its neighbour and major trading partner, Argentina.

However, analysts note that the share of the market taken by ‘popular’ class vehicles (up to 1 litre engine displacement) continues to rise – 75% in 2001, up from 71% in 2000.

The three biggest market players, Volkswagen, Fiat and GM accounted for over 81% of market volume. Market leader Fiat’s sales reached 373,691 units (7.4% down on 2000), with second-placed Volkswagen at 356,807 units (an 11% gain on the previous year) and GM sales on 304,471 units (-2.2%).

The production of vehicles was also up, although a sharp decline at the end of the year was apparent as export demand weakened. Car production in 2001 totalled 1,473,879 units – 9% ahead of 2000. However, December’s total was down 16% on year-ago levels.