Brazil provides the first letter of BRIC. Without the BRICs, we’d have tombstones for carmakers. How are we keeping the global auto business alive, down here in the Southern Cone? Follow me as I give you the highlights.
According to the well-informed Auto Informe site, of the Brazilian Big 4, only Fiat grew (less than one percentage point) in the first trimester. VW and GM both fell more than 4%, while Ford dropped a little less. This must hurt, especially for GM as they are in the midst of their line-up change. The Cobalt, Cruze and S10 have all been launched. The factory could have trouble ramping up the production, but GM must be worried that they are still not gaining traction. They must wonder how Fiat is doing it.
Brazil’s Automakers, Q1 2012
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Indeed, Fiat Group has good news considering that the market has fallen by 0.6% (which basically means it’s stagnating) and competition is growing. Here, they’re doing the opposite of Europe and bringing new offerings to the market. Their new Palio, received with some doubts by some specialists, mainly because of sticker shock, has managed to get back in third place in sales. The all new Grand Siena is going on sale this month and will surely help the Italo-American maker. Chrysler’s brands are all up, though their sales are marginal, but they all help the bottom line. Even Fiat’s commercial truck brand, Iveco (though only LCVs are counted in this list), is up by more than 30%.
Another maker that is worried is Ford. While they dropped a little, they are seeing Renault and Nissan slowly creeping up on them. If one takes Renault-Nissan sales as a unit, they are now the fourth biggest in Brazil with combined sales of 10.3%. Renault grew by more than 30% and Nissan, riding on the success of both their new launches, March and Versa, has more than doubled sales.
Further down the ranking, Hyundai-Kia have seen their sales plummet. The new tax slapped onto imported cars has really hurt them. As Brazil and Mexico renegotiate their free trade agreement, all brands importing cars from Mexico are hurting. It now seems there will be quotas instead of free trade. Some makers are facing that by building factories in Brazil (like Nissan). Some makers have put plans on hold. However, this decision will surely hurt those dependent on Mexican production for sales in Brazil.
Of note, Chinese makers. While none of them have managed even a 1% share in our market, Chery and Jinbei (don’t ask me what that is, have never seen one and if I have, I didn’t notice) grew at around 100%. Even Chinese-owned Land Rover grew by almost 50% due to the strength of Evoque sales.