Another car sales milestone was reached here last month: October 2006 was the first month ever to see sales go over 20,000 units (21,407 in total). Year to date sales reached 161,667 cars, up 37.1% versus the first 10 months of 2005.

Automakers and statisticians are agreed: last month's big motor show in Bogotá boosted buyers' enthusiasm to raise October sales 7.8% versus September, according to Econometría data.

October's top selling brands were: GM's Chevrolet (7,859, mostly sourced from GM-Daewoo); Renault, 3,597; Hyundai, 2,402; Mazda, 1,152; and Toyota, 984. Biggest month on month gain? Subaru with a massive 166.7%.

New model launches last month included the Audi Q7, Subaru Tribeca, Jaguar X and S Type and Mazda CX-7 and there are now 19 Chinese vehicles competing for buyers, too.

Corferias, which organized the Bogotá motor show, said the event set records for visitors and vehicle sales: more than 170,000 people paid for an entry ticket and almost 7,000 purchase deals were signed.

After 10 months of the year, locally-assembled vehicles (GM, Renault, Mazda and some Toyotas) now account for 45.8% of sales while fully-built imports are now in a 54.2% majority. Imports are cheaper in real terms due to the recent Colombian peso revaluation, which reverted it to the same rate against the US dollar as in 2002.

Juan Vargas