By on September 12, 2011

After landing in BotswanaMalta and Bangladesh over the last few weeks, we now travel half-way through the world again to arrive in Venezuela.

If you cannot stand one more Hugo Chavez-related article, that’s ok I have prepared info about car sales in 155 other countries that you can explore in my blog, so click away!

Now the most paradoxical element of the car landscape in Venezuela is that by and large it is dominated by American brands…

But how is that possible I hear you ask with vigor?

And you are right to ask… because it doesn’t make any sense right?

It’s no secret Hugo Chavez has made it a hobby to have as little to do as possible with the United States.

Well you see this is all good and well but South America has a tradition of buying (and manufacturing while we’re at it) a LOT of Chevrolets… You can see some info on Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Paraguay to confirm this.

Venezuela is no exception and the Chevrolet Aveo has been the best-selling car in the country since 2005, with General Motors operating a plant in the country since…1948! Chevrolet has even assembled more than 1,500,000 vehicles in its first 50 years in Venezuela…Bet you didn’t know that one!

That’s for the context.

So when Mr Chavez decides to stop all car imports into his country, the brands that suffer the most are actually not American at all. Fiat and Renault for example have lodged very variable performances over the years because they do not manufacture or assemble any cars in Venezuela (anymore ) and their sales stop for months on end because their cars simply cannot enter the country.

Chinese brands, which have made quite good inroads in countries like Uruguay and Chile, have all but stopped selling any cars in Venezuela for example.

Volume-wise, the Venezuelan car market has been very temperamental – based on what was said above – over the last decade. It fell to a low of 64,000 units in 2003, to bounce back to its best-ever figure in 2007: 492,000 sales, making it South America’s third biggest car market behind Brazil and Argentina. Then it has been falling each year: -45 percent in 2008, -50 percent in 2009, -8 percent in 2010 and so far in 2011 it is at -4 percent with 78,000 units sold in 8 months.

But don’t think Venezuelan consumers have been less keen to buy new cars during that period, on the contrary! In 2009, local manufacturers (GM, Hyundai, Toyota and Ford) could not pay their foreign suppliers because of the inflation, and imports were stopped by the government. There was simply no new cars to sell, and used cars started selling for way more than the value of the car, new. Like an industry gone into reverse. See an interesting article from The Guardian on this phenomenon.

Model-wise, over the first 8 months of 2011 the Chevrolet Aveo leads the Venezuelan market with 13,500 sales and a massive 17.2 percent share. The Aveo is on its way to its 7th consecutive year atop the Venezuelan models ranking.

In second place, the Ford Fiesta, a restyled version of the 2002 generation, holds nearly 9 percent of the market at close to 7,000 sales in 8 months.

In third place, the Chevrolet Optra – a specific version with a different front is built locally – commends nearly 6 percent market share, well below its level of a couple of years ago when it threatened the Aveo for the pole position.

So far, 100% American cars – I told you!

But wait it gets better…

The Ford F350 – yep you read well – and not an old generation, the one sold in the US right now, ranks 4th in Venezuela with 4.2 percent of the market over 8 months and 6.2 percent in August. This is, given in the US the biggest seller in the F-Series range is by far the F150, way way way higher than its US market share.

Plus the F250, which launched a couple of months ago, is already 11th in August at 3.3 percent share. That’s 9.5 percent market share for the F250/350 with the 150 not even sold in the country…

Talk about not being into American cars…

But wait there’s more…

5th best selling vehicle: Chevrolet C3500 (aka Silverado 3500)

7. Chevrolet Spark

8. Jeep Grand Cherokee (current generation)

9. Chevrolet Silverado

That’s 8 American cars in the Venezuelan Top 10.

Top 25 Best-Selling Vehicles in Venezuela over the first 8 months of 2011:

Pos Model 2011 % 2010
1 Chevrolet Aveo 13,498 17.2% 1
2 Ford Fiesta 6,986 8.9% 3
3 Chevrolet Optra 4,619 5.9% 2
4 Ford F350 3,309 4.2% 10
5 Chevrolet C3500 3,223 4.1% 23
6 Mitsubishi Lancer 3,190 4.1% 17
7 Chevrolet Spark 2,890 3.7% 5
8 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2,843 3.6% 8
9 Chevrolet Silverado 2,663 3.4% 9
10 Toyota Corolla 2,531 3.2% 4
11 Chevrolet Luv 2,520 3.2% 16
12 Ford Explorer 2,318 3.0% 6
13 Hyundai Elantra 2,131 2.7% 20
14 Toyota Fortuner 1,939 2.5% 7
15 Hyundai Getz 1,720 2.2% 18
16 Kia Sportage 1,713 2.2% 27
17 Jeep Cherokee 1,589 2.0% 11
18 Kia Rio 1,421 1.8% 15
19 Chevrolet NPR 1,241 1.6% 13
20 Ford Ranger 1,100 1.4%  -
21 Toyota Hilux 1,028 1.3% 14
22 Dodge Caliber 971 1.2% 19
23 Fiat Siena 961 1.2%  -
24 Peugeot 207 884 1.1%  -
25 Ford Cargo 1721 860 1.1%  -

Now you’re asking for your weekly golden nugget/bit of trivia to show off at industry dinners…

That’s 8 American cars in the Venezuelan Top 10.

Want me to say it again?

That’s 8 American cars in the Venezuelan Top 10.

Hope you learnt something today…

Oh and yes, now you are an expert about car sales in Venezuela. Easy!

You can also check out each monthly Venezuelan models ranking since November 2010 and Venezuela Historical Data since 2002.

All data was sourced from CAVENEZ, la Cámara Automotriz de Venezuela.

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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11 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Venezuela Loves America – Really!...”


  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    The Venezuelan market really favors automakers with two key attributes:

    1. lousy fuel economy (i.e. Luts overweight) because gas is so cheap
    2. lack of profitability, because captial controls make it very difficult to repatriate cash out of the country.

    In essense, Venezuela is custom made for US-based automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Yet the top 3 sellers are small cars with good fuel economy. With gas as cheap as they are, you’d think they all would want Hummers and Suburbans and stuff. Though no. 1 and 3 is really Korean with American badges.

  • avatar

    They love American cars in Saudi Arabia as well. Especially Crown Vics (well, Mercury version), Suburbans and GMC stepsides. At least in the area I’m in. Not too fond of Americans but they love our cars.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    If Chavez really believes we have the capability to generate earthquakes at will, what is his explanation for the fact we haven’t set one off under his chair?

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Wasn’t Hugo Chavez going to let the Iranians set up a factory to build a Khrodro based on a Peugeot 405 platform? I don’t see them on the above list.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Gas is indeed much cheaper(government subsidized) but people don’t make a lot of money either. whereas in the Arab country, money flows like the oil

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Are these private sales,or does it include governmental sales?

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Ah… la “madre patria” y antiguo hogar…

    “In 2009, local manufacturers (GM, Hyundai, Toyota and Ford) could not pay their foreign suppliers because of the inflation”

    Nope, they couldn’t pay their suppliers (and still have plenty of problem at that) because the government has a bloody strong currency control in place since 2002… and takes its time to give the currency to ALL manufacturers.

    They changed the automotive policy in 2007 and haven’t given almost any import license to anyone. They started handing some in the past 3 years, but only to “friendly” countries.

    I think the Spark they still have there is the previous Matiz-based one.

    Gas is around 2 US$ cent/litre. No, that’s not a typo. People don’t care much about fuel economy. Or the CNG the government gives for free, both the kit and the gas, to promote its use.

    “Wasn’t Hugo Chavez going to let the Iranians set up a factory to build a Khrodro based on a Peugeot 405 platform? I don’t see them on the above list.”

    Ummm… yes. And TTAC has a review of it too: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/review-the-iran-khodro-samand-venezuelan-spec-no-you-can%E2%80%99t-have-it/ . I guess you’re thinking this place is FTMFW!11!!!!

    “Gas is indeed much cheaper(government subsidized) but people don’t make a lot of money either”

    This is key, but also cars are ridiculously expensive, and that’s not including the dealer mark up. How about a Cruze/Corolla at around US$ 45K?, or the Grand Cherokee easily at more than twice that.

    “Are these private sales,or does it include governmental sales?”

    Mostly private. The government usually buy lots of LUV D-Max trucks, which is 11th in the table.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Left wing graft recipients are buying ‘American’ cars in the US now too. Listen to union organizers. They’re all fellow travelers.

  • avatar
    onechoag

    As a Venezuelan that now lives in USA, Let me explain why this is a curious case:

    First, Hugo Chavez is not a socialist, or a communist, or does not follow any political ideology. He is simply a king. He does whatever he think at the moment is right for him, not for the country, or following an ideology that he says he is. He is buffoon and that’s why everything that is related to his political decision making is so difficult to predict or understand. This popular cars list is a perfect example. It does not make sense that an American car maker owns so many top spots in a country that allegedly hates USA’s international policies.

    Second, Venezuela has huge taxes for car makers that do not build at least 30% of the car in Venezuela. Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota has being the leaders in building cars in Venezuela to be able to evade importing taxes and have a more competitive price in the market since the 50’s and 60’s. This helps brand loyalty that is more powerful than a president speech.

    Third, Venezuelan car buyers are always looking for the cheapest car available and that car will always be the first on the list. Venezuela is such an unstable economy that buying a car with credit is almost impossible. With credit rates ranging 20% to 35% it is simple non sense. However, there is a good chunk of Venezuelans that can afford to buy expensive cars cash. And this is the people that are buying F350, Hummers, luxury Toyota Land Cruisers, etc.

    And last but not least, big flashy cars in Venezuela are very dangerous. Stealing cars in Venezuela and selling them in adjacent countries is such a big business that if you have a Hummer you need also a motorcade of security guards for your protection.

    I am not proud of my birth country at all but I hope someday us (Venezuelans) will get that country back together.


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