Colombian car sales in the first six months of 2009 fell  22.4%, less than expected.

Yet, in this declining market Volvo posted 7% growth, MINI was up 217% and Volkswagen 7%.

Assemblers booked a 20% fall, less than the market, which can be explained by the launch of the Renault Symbol (Clio sedan) which gave the French manufacturer 18% of market share, something not seen in many years.

Assemblers (Chevrolet, Renault, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Ford) and CBU-only importers (the other 37 brands) split this market 50/50 though it should be noted statisticians Econometría count in fully imported CBUs that assemblers sell as well as CKD units, and the finished vehicles can represent as much as a quarter of their sales.

All market segments are down but the most critical losses are in cargo vehicle business due to some government policy changes affecting sales.

Automobiles (54.1% of the market), taxis (9.7%), utility vehicles (14.9%), vans (3.6%) and buses (2.8%) gained market share at the expense of pickups (9.1%) and trucks (5.7%). This reflects the decline in the commercial and industrial economy.

Assemblers lead in passenger cars (72.4% share of the segment), trucks (53%) and buses (64%), while importers dominate the others: 73% of taxis, 97% of trucks, 84% of pickups and all vans.

As a forecast, with annual sales traditionally distributed 45% in the first half and 55% in the second, I venture to predict almost 105,000 sales to come, for a total of 190,000.

That would make 2009 the fourth best year in the history of the Colombian automotive market.

Juan Vargas