Car Sales Mixed in Latin America

Vehicle sales for last year were up in Brazil and Colombia but down in Mexico, Argentina and Chile, according to data from a variety of automotive associations and agencies. The five countries have the largest national fleets among Latin American countries.

Brazils fleet is the largest, followed by Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile, according to data compiled by online vehicle fleet and mobility portal Global Fleet, which collected numbers from various associations and agencies across the region.

Nearly 4 million new vehicle registrations were reported in Brazil in 2019, up 10.5 percent from 2018. This included passenger cars, pickups, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and motorcycles.

Combined numbers for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles rose 7.7 percent to 2.7 million units, according to Fenabrave, which is the countrys motor vehicles distribution federation.

Meanwhile, approximately 11,900 electric vehicles - mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric models - were registered in the country last year, most of them in the second semester. While this only represented 0.4 percent of the entire market, 2020 should bring an increase to more than 1 percent or some 40,000 units, according to Fenebrave. Mild hybrids may use technologies ranging from start-stop operation to regenerative braking but cannot plug in to recharge.

Brazil has approximately 65.3 million light vehicles including 56.5 million cars - one per four inhabitants - and 8.8 million light commercial vehicles.

Meanwhile, up north in Mexico, some 1.3 million light vehicles were sold to the public in 2019, down 7.7 percent from 1.48 million in 2018, according to the Mexican governments National Institute of Statistics and Geography. The country has also experienced a rise in EV sales, which reached approximately 24,000 units last year.

Mexicos car parc consists of 33.5 million passenger vehicles - one per three inhabitants - including 33 million passenger cars and 441,659 pickups. It has an extensive fleet of cargo trucks, currently more than 11 million.

Sales in Argentina are falling fast, with registrations dropping 42.7 percent to 459,592 units last year, according to the Association of Automobile Dealers of the Argentine Republic. While dealership sales fell 45.5 percent year over year to 372,474 units, exports dropped 16.7 percent to 224,248 units, the association said. It attributed the downturn mainly to high inflation of 53 percent and a benchmark interest rate of 50 percent, both influenced by the weakening of the Argentinean eso, which lost 37 percent against the U.S. dollar last year and 50 percent in 2018.

Argentina has approximately 14 million vehicles - one per three inhabitants - with passenger cars and pickups accounting for 85 percent, light commercial vehicles for 11 percent and trucks and buses for 4 percent.

In Colombia, 263,684 units were sold last year, up 2.7 percent from 2018. While pickups showed a 4.6 percent increase to 3,021 units, and premium passenger vehicle sales rose by 123 percent to 12,766 units.

Electrified vehicle sales, like the rest of the region, are rising rapidly from a small base. A total of 3,134 EVs were sold in Colombia, up 236 percent. Mild hybrids accounted for 1,722 units, followed by battery EVs at 923 and plug-in hybrids with 439, according to Andemos, the countrys sustainable mobility association.

Although Colombia has nearly 6 million cars - one per nine inhabitants - its passenger vehicle fleet is 13 million if motorcycles are included.

Meanwhile, Chile had 372,878 new vehicle registrations in 2019, down 10.6 percent. Of this, 141,717 were passenger vehicles, 137,303 were SUVs and crossovers, and 93,858 were pickups and light commercial vehicles. More than 300 electric buses are circulating on the countrys streets.

Chile has approximately 5 million vehicles, or one for every four inhabitants.

Traffic jam in Sao Paolo

Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

Daniel Bland is a freelance writer who reported on some of this same data for an article that appeared on Feb. 3 as an analysis on the website of Global Fleet.