Helped by a strong economy, Brazil’s vehicle market posted a new record of over 3.5m units sold in 2010 according to data released by local auto trade association Anfavea.

Anfavea said that 2010 vehicle sales reached 3,515,064 units, 11.9% ahead of 2009’s tally. Car sales reached 2,644,704 units, some 6.9% ahead of the previous year.

Brazil’s economy is estimated to have grown by 7-8% in 2010, with its strong performance underpinned by booming exports to China and higher real incomes in Brazil.

Analysts point to rising real incomes and good availability of finance as key factors behind buoyant vehicle sales through 2010.

Anfavea has revised its forecast for 2011 vehicle sales up to 3.69m units.

In the 2010 car market, the ‘popular’ class – with engine displacement up to 1litre – was again the biggest, accounting for 1.34m units, or 50.8% share.

Sales of flex fuel vehicles – able to run on gasoline, ethanol or a blend of the two – reached 2.88m units and accounted for some 86% of the light vehicle market.

In terms of manufacturer shares, the 2010 results were notable for recent entrants taking share from some of the more established players.

Fiat led the car market with sales of 611,336 units (down 1.2% on 2009); Volkswagen Group was second with 604,324 units (down 3.8%).

Ford was up 12.8% to 265,068 units while GM managed an 11.8% gain to 561,732 units.

Hyundai Motor (includes KIA) more than doubled sales (+109.8%) to 44,009 units in 2010. Nissan was up by 70.9% in the year to 26,970 units.

The year 2010 appears to have been a good vintage for the French manufacturers in Brazil.

PSA enjoyed a strong year for sales in Brazil with a tally of 164,096 units, up 11.3% on the previous year. However, its Citroën brand was up by 20.3% to 82,011 units.

Renault was up by 35.8% to 152,074 units.