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April 18, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: COLOMBIA: Peso’s rise against greenback helps Q1 cars sales surge 23.7%

Colombian car sales grew 23.7% year on year in the first quarter of 2005, according to Econometria.

Colombian car sales grew 23.7% year on year in the first quarter of 2005, according to Econometria.

Such an increase is abnormal in this South American country, whose automotive market is described by industry experts as ‘underdeveloped’ when you consider that neighbouring Venezuela has half the population but twice as many car sales.

So what happened? The economy grew 3.96% in 2004, kidnaps decreased almost 50% and citizen optimism increased another 50%. That partly explains it, but there is also a lot of money on the streets, because the Colombian peso has appreciated in value against the American dollar and people wants to spend it.

The peso’s appreciation has encouraged people to bring their money back from American banks to Colombia (to get better interest rates) and made car prices more competitive.

In this environment, the pick up truck (up 52.6%) and heavy truck (32.8%) segments made the best gains in Q1, ’05, reflecting a healthy business climate. SUVs and buses, however, fared the worst, which is surprising because farmers in the country like to drive 4x4s for security reasons and bus travel grew as well.

The brands

Chevrolet is leading the market with a dominant 36.6% market share. Its first quarter sales, 11,048 units, were almost three times ahead of its nearest competitors.

Renault (4,634), Hyundai (3,555), Mazda (2,144) and Toyota (1,887) are far from the top, but the big news is that the Korean imported brand – Hyundai – is now third, a spot on the podium previously always held by locally-assembled Mazda.

Juan Carlos Vargas

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