Argentine vehicle makers posted their best month of the year so far in July with production up 5% to 37,735 units compared with 35,940 in June, the Argentinean National Automaker's Federation (Adefa) reported.

This was growth of 36.2% year on year.

As production grew, the performance of PSA Peugeot Citroën was impressive. This year, the company posted an increase of 47%, the highest in the country, and has now passed General Motors and Ford to become the largest vehicle producer in Argentina.

Between January and July, the company made 48,674 vehicles in its El Palomar plant.

At the beginning of the year, PSA began making the updated version of the Peugeot 307 hatchback here and, in June, added the 307 sedan which is also built in China.

The growth of vehicle production last month was due mainly to export demand. In July, local automakers shipped 20,174 vehicles to other countries - the best result of the year so far and up 1.1% on the 19,960 units exported in June.

Year-on-year, exports were up 20.4% from the 16,753 vehicles sent to other countries in July 2005.

Argentina's key market is Brazil which takes about 45% of all vehicles exported by Argentina. Mexico is the second largest market with about 20% of the units shipped.

Though sales to foreign markets are growing, local sales in July were down 3.6% from 37,493 units in June to 36,128. But sales increased 8.9% year on year.

Volkswagen continues to top the Argentinean market, selling 7,094 vehicles last month for market share of 19.6%. Ford was second (5,624 units; 15.6%). GM's Chevrolet, which only sells cars, pick-up trucks and SUVs, was third placed with 4,882 vehicles sold and 13.5% of market share.

Volkswagen and Ford sell a complete range of vehicles, including cars, pick-ups, light commercials, trucks and buses.

Rogério Louro

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