Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Is It The End Of An Era in Brazil?

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier
best selling cars around the globe is it the end of an era in brazil

After telling you all about the best selling cars in Argentina and Libya, I will proudly continue to surprise you, and come back to South America to talk to you about Brazil. Because something pretty exceptional happened last month in Brazil. No wait. A once in a decade event. No less.

If you can’t wait for the next update and want to know all about car sales in 154 countries around the planet simply go here, it’s my blog and it’s awesome. Yes it is.

Alright. We’re lucky, in Brazil, the Fenabrave dealer organization keeps us up to date about the best selling cars in the country. Not once but twice a month. Nice. But let’s get straight to it: in February 2011, the Fiat novo Uno was the best selling car in Brazil with 21,470 units sold, kicking the Volkswagen Gol into second place with 20,989 sales.

“Is that it?” I hear you say. Well well well. Let’s dive into a bit of background to give you some perspective. As readers of Marcelo’s great pieces know, the Volkswagen Gol has been the best selling car in Brazil every year since 1987. Yep, that’s 24 years in a row. It’s up there with the Ford F-Series in the USA, or the Volkswagen Golf in Germany in terms of longevity.

Fiat has tried before to dislodge the Gol in Brazil. It launched and started production of the Fiat Palio there in 1996, an attempt at a world car but really, to kick the Gol’s arse in Brazil. Didn’t do it. Actually, it did, but a tiny tiny little bit. From the time I have been following Brazilian car sales (January 2000), the Fiat Palio only managed to pass the Gol in the monthly ranking THREE TIMES! In September 2006, October 2006 and August 2007. That’s it. That’s 3 months to the Palio, and 118 months to the Gol. So Gol 118, Palio 3.

Until last month.

With the Palio, the Fiat novo Uno is only the second model since 1996 to have managed to outsell the Volkswagen Gol in any given month. Suddenly it’s a little more impressive, não é?

MonthFiat Uno unitsUno %VW Gol unitsGol %May-1014,1646.0%24,23610.3%Jun-1019,1307.7%22,1799.0%Jul-1023,1638.1%25,4248.9%Aug-1024,0948.1%25,8558.7%Sep-1023,8808.2%25,3388.7%Oct-1022,2267.7%25,8609.0%Nov-1024,2827.8%29,6979.5%Dec-1028,6927.9%29,8098.3%Jan-1116,9137.4%23,05910.0%Feb-1121,4708.3%20,9898.1%

Okay now you’re saying: that’s just one month. Granted. But since the launch of the novo Uno in June 2010, Volkswagen had been promoting the hell out of the Gol to ensure it kept its first spot (see comparison table). Now looks like Volkswagen is running out of new tricks. Plus the 3-door version of the novo Uno has just launched last month and will add significant volume in the near future. Plus Fiat is building a new plant right there in Brazil to keep up with the demand. Plus Fiat will be launching this August a completely remodeled version of the Palio for the first time since its original launch. And the Palio competes even more squarely with the Gol.

Suddenly, 2011 doesn’t look so good for the Gol.

Again, this might just be a bad dream and come back to normal during the rest of the year, and I will have cried wolf for nothing, but it is still a once in a decade event…

For those of you familiar with the Uno nameplate in Europe (best seller in Italy from 1983 to 1994), the novo Uno has nothing to do with it. Until June 2010, Fiat do Brazil had actually continued to manufacture a restyled version of the original European Uno, sometimes called Mille, with significant success, the model ranking frequently on the podium.

In June 2010, Fiat launched the novo Uno, based on the European Fiat Panda (talk about confusing…). The novo Uno is not sold in Europe, only in South America. It is not doing so well in Argentina where it is priced too high, but really it looks like Fiat designed it exclusively for Brazil, and they were right to do so.

A couple more interesting facts about the sales figures of the novo Uno in Brazil:

21,470 units give it a 8.3 percent market share. That’s way above the market share achieved by the best selling Fiat in Italy itself this month! The Fiat Punto achieved 6.7 percent of the Italian market in February 2011, and its sales are made of 3 distinct models: the Punto Classic, the Punto Evo and the Grande Punto… Other popular Fiats, the Panda (5.8 percent) and the 500 (3.8 percent) were not even close.

In terms of volume, the novo Uno has sold in Brazil twice the amount of Puntos in Italy (10,762)…

Thought you should know.

Now if you are a real nerd and want to see the Top 100 best selling models in Brazil or the Top 50 best selling models in Italy last month simply click on the name of the country in this very sentence.

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

Join the conversation
2 of 13 comments
  • Matt Gasnier Matt Gasnier on Mar 18, 2011

    Hey Marcelo that's great info thank you! For some reason I only got to read this today...

    Now would Geely have registered the Panda name in Brazil before Fiat thought of it? They are using it in China for this model. Separately Fiat has prevented Geely from using the Panda name in Australia when they launch the model here, even though the Fiat Panda is not sold in Australia... See the detail here

    It would be really interesting to try and find this out?

    Also as a bit of an update, as at mid-March the Fiat Novo Uno is AGAIN the best selling car in Brazil... This is getting serious!

    The Top 75 in Brazil at mid-March is here.

  • Leolino Leolino on Aug 26, 2011

    Excellent analysis! On a year by year basis, the VW Beetle was the bestselling car in Brazil beginning in immemorial times (1960s, probably) and up to 1982. In 1983 the Chevrolet Chevette (Opel Kadett C, fresh from a redesign) took the lead. In 1984 the Chevrolet Monza (Opel Ascona) became the bestseller, remaining so until 1986. In 1987 the Gol took over and has been the top seller ever since. On a month by month basis, the old Uno, and the Palio after its introduction in 1996, occasionally beat the Gol. The Tipo, while it was still imported (it was later built here, but for a short time only), managed to be the bestselling car in exactly one month, shortly before a hike in import taxes, IIRC. I believe this was January 1996. Oh, and be careful with the Fenabrave data. They lump the new Uno and the old Uno together as one model. They also lump in the old Gol (base model, still built on the 1980 platform, though it was heavily revised in 1994) and the new Gol (a completely different car, on the mid-2000s Polo platform) together. For what it's worth, they also lump the Chevrolet Corsa Sedan and the Chevrolet Classic (née... Chevrolet Corsa Sedan) together. Apparently, their criterion is the car's name, not the differences between one car and the other. This is partly the manufacturers' fault. The small-hatchback market in Brazil is a mess. Fiat has four different cars in that segment (old Uno, new Uno, Palio, Punto); so does Volkswagen (old Gol, new Gol, Fox, Polo); and Chevrolet has three (Celta, Corsa, Agile). Chevrolet even has three different small sedans (Classic, Prisma, Corsa Sedan). (Punto = the European Grande Punto; Celta = redesigned Opel Corsa B; Corsa = Opel Corsa C; Agile = another redesigned Opel Corsa B; Classic = sedan version of the Opel Corsa B; Prisma; redesigned sedan version of the Opel Corsa B, also the sedan version of the Celta; Corsa Sedan = sedan version of the Opel Corsa C.)

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