The net profit of Colombia's second largest auto assembler and retailer Sofasa, controlled by French car maker Renault, soared to 28.725 billion Colombian pesos ($US11.2 million/€8.8 million) for January to September 2004, up 315% year-on-year, according to the Latin America News Digest.

The profit increase reportedly was attributed to higher sales, debt reduction and lower operating costs. Sofasa's operating revenue grew to 913.527 billion pesos for the first nine months of 2004.

Vehicle sales in Colombia totalled 81,084 units over the first nine months of 2004, rising 19 pct year-on-year, according to the industry group Comite Automotor.

The report said vehicle sales in September 2004 totalled 10,105 units, up 20% from September 2003. Colombia's largest retailer GM Colmotores, the local unit of General Motors, led the market, while Chevrolet sales in September 2004 grew 25.9% from September 2003.