After five months of 2010 and almost two years of a steady COP vs USD exchange rate, the Colombian automotive market in 2010 grew 18.7% to the end of May.

Industry observers think buyers were optimistic about the economy during the recent presidential campaign won by Juan Manuel Santos.

The central bank expects economic growth and happy Colombians bought 18,916 new vehicles last month; 4,588 or 32% more than a year ago.

According to Econometría statisticians, the local assemblers (GM, Renault and Mazda) took almost the same January to May market share as in 2009 (41%) while importers fought over their slices of the remaining pie.

The top 10 brands by market share so far in 2010 were: Chevrolet, 33.0%; Renault, 14.3%; Hyundai, 11.0%; Kia, 8.8%; Mazda, 5.7%; Nissan, 5.4%; Toyota, 4.7%; Volkswagen, 2.9%; Ford, 2.1%; and Dodge, 1.0%.

The top 10 growing brands were Fiat, 170.0%; Dodge, 127.3%; Audi, 115.2%; Ssangyong, 104.8%; Jaguar, 100.0%; Nissan, 97.5%; Kia, 89.7%; Toyota, 81.3%; Jeep, 76.7%; and BMW, 53.5%.

Analysing by market segment, Econometría said passenger cars had grown 20.4%; taxis fell 2.0%; SUVs were up 46.5% as were pickup trucks, +21.0%; while vans, -7.1%; trucks, -1.2%; and buses, -9.8% all slipped.

Last month’s new model launches included the Kia Cadenza (K7 in Korea; replaces the Amanti in the US), Renault Scala, BMW X5, 2011 Range Rover, Chevrolet Cruze and the Jeep Wrangler X.

Nissan is now importing three new China assembled ZNA (Zhengzhou Nissan Automobiles) models: the Oting SUV (similar to the Xterra), Rich pickup truck (equivalent to the Japanese Frontier) and the Yumsun microvan.

Econometría is sticking to its forecast 12% growth to 210,000 units for 2010.