With two thirds of the year gone, auto sales in Colombia are running about 21% down year on year at close to 15,000 units a month, according to Econometría analysts. Full year sales of 175,000 units are expected.

Local assemblers currently account for about 48% of the market, as has been the case for over a decade.

Chevrolet, though sales are down 16%, has gained 2.3 points of market share (now 37.4%) and Renault‘s slice is up to 15.1% though sales are off 7%. Mazda sales are down 25% but market share remains stable at just under 6%.

Local assemblers sold a little over 55,000 units in the first eight months of this year versus about 70,000 in the same period of 2008. This year they have gained 1% of market share from the full importers.

Meanwhile, 400 assembly jobs have been axed because exports to Venezuela (President Chvez has banned Colombian imports) and Ecuador have stopped. Assemblers this week reiterated they are looking for new markets in Central America and the Caribbean to replace those lost exports and expect to to rehire the sacked workers in due course.

That said, though a free trade agreement has been in place with Mexico for over five years, not one Colombian assembled car has been exported there because the pricing of our local products is not competitive enough.

Unusually, there were no new car model launches here in the last month.

Juan Vargas