Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Venezuela Loves America – Really!

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

After landing in Botswana, Malta 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:

PosModel2011%20101Chevrolet Aveo13,49817.2%12Ford Fiesta6,9868.9%33Chevrolet Optra4,6195.9%24Ford F3503,3094.2%105Chevrolet C35003,2234.1%236Mitsubishi Lancer3,1904.1%177Chevrolet Spark2,8903.7%58Jeep Grand Cherokee2,8433.6%89Chevrolet Silverado2,6633.4%910Toyota Corolla2,5313.2%411Chevrolet Luv2,5203.2%1612Ford Explorer2,3183.0%613Hyundai Elantra2,1312.7%2014Toyota Fortuner1,9392.5%715Hyundai Getz1,7202.2%1816Kia Sportage1,7132.2%2717Jeep Cherokee1,5892.0%1118Kia Rio1,4211.8%1519Chevrolet NPR1,2411.6%1320Ford Ranger1,1001.4% –21Toyota Hilux1,0281.3%1422Dodge Caliber9711.2%1923Fiat Siena9611.2% –24Peugeot 2078841.1% –25Ford Cargo 17218601.1% –

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.

Join the conversation
2 of 11 comments
  • CJinSD CJinSD on Sep 13, 2011

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

  • Onechoag Onechoag on Sep 14, 2011

    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.

  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.
  • El scotto Pondering if he has a clean brandy snifter. Well but, ah, I mean the original Grand Wagoneer was fully loaded and had a V-8. The original Grand Wagoneer had an almost cult-like following with a certain type of woman. Attractive, educated high earning women; or those that put on the appearances of being that way.Our esteemed HerR DOKtor Perfessor again shows how ignorant he is of the American market. What he deems "bread-vans on stilts" are highly coveted by significant others that are also highly coveted. The new Grand Cherokee with the new well engineered V-6 will sell as well as the ones from the 80s some of us get wistful over. The only real question will be: LL Bean or Orvis edition?
  • El scotto Well, I've had cats that are smarted than a great many members of congress. I rather doubt that any of the congresspeople Matt named are engineers, finance people or project managers. Ya know, professionals you call in to get a job done.Today is Wednesday, this will be out of the 36 hour news cycle by Friday. Oh it might get mentioned again on OCT 6. Unless there are cute animals to put on TV that day.
  • El scotto Oh My Good Lord Yes! Gents, this is a Caddy that carries on the soul of Caddy. Loud, brash, and apologetically American. Also large and in charge and one of GM's best evah engines. What used to be a flash roll is now bottle service.Can't deal with that reality? There are plenty of excellent SUVs/CUVs on the market. I'm a former Escape owner. The Escape was a sensible lil CUV, this Caddy is just way over the top.Canyon carver? Not a chance, this is based on a Silverado frame. Easy to park? Toss the valet the keys. Will some of the other high-end SUVs have better "soft touch" materials that make car journalist get tingly all over? Of course.This Caddy is designed to eat up huge and I mean huge amounts of American interstate miles. Four people and their luggage? Easily.
  • Miguel I have a Mitsubishi Diamante VRX 2003,and I think this is one of the luxury and sport car.