By on February 28, 2012

In the last couple of weeks I have taken you to OmanIsraelBelarus and Eritrea. Those of you that religiously read my column every week (endless thanks to you!) will remember that last week I also asked you which country you would want to travel to next. Well I have decided to grant not one, but ALL your wishes and the next few weeks will be dedicated to the countries you have requested.

Yes. I’m nice like that.

So this week we’re going to Chile, as per marjanmm’s wish. Why did I choose Chile? Because marjanmm was first to ask!

That’s right.

Now if you have ordered another country and couldn’t care less about Chile, I won’t get offended because I have prepared 159 additional countries for you to visit in my blog, so don’t sulk and click away!

In Chile, ‘Chevrolet’ and Nissan fight a very tight battle…

Yes I wrote Chevrolet like this – and apologies to anyone who works at General Motors – because the Chevrolet in question is the Sail and imported from China. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The latest models data I have for Chile dates back to July 2011. No that recent but that’s all I have for you I’m afraid. You’ll get over it I’m sure…

Over the first 7 months of 2011, the Chilean market was up a massive 32 percent year-on-year to 187,736 units. Three models sit within 0.1 percentage point market share of each other on the podium… (hence the ‘tight battle’ tip above.)

The Nissan Tiida is the best-selling model in the country over the period with 7,739 sales and a 4.1 percent share…

…but it is closely followed by the Chevrolet Sail (yes, the one that’s imported from China) at 7,674 units. The Sail was even #1 over the first half of the year! Chile is therefore the Sail’s second-most important export country, together with Algeria where the Sail is delivering outstanding numbers, making the Sail the first true successful Chinese export…ever.

A second Nissan, the Terrano (aka Frontier, the previous generation Navara… wow, 3 names for one car. Bit much) rounds up the podium and leads the commercial vehicles ranking with 7,549 sales and 4 percent share. The Terrano has been the best-selling pick-up in Chile for the last 6 years.

A second ‘Chevrolet’ (mmm I can hear our friends at General Motors are getting a little bit annoyed), the Spark freshly imported from Korea I believe, is #4 at 6,979 units and 3.7 percent, ahead of the 2010 market leader, the Hyundai Accent down to #5 with 5,309 sales and a 2.8 percent share.

Notice also the Samsung SM3, unashamedly Korean, holding itself very well in 7th place at 2.5 percent share and the Suzuki Alto breaking into the overall Top 10 at 1.9 percent. In the SUV ranking, the Hyundai New Tucson (2,326 sales) and Santa Fe (2,226) dominate, while the Great Wall Hover ranks #10 at 975 units.

Chile All Models – 7 Months 2011

Pos Model 7m 2011 %
1 Nissan Tiida 7,739 4.1%
2 Chevrolet Sail 7,674 4.1%
3 Nissan Terrano 7,549 4.0%
4 Chevrolet Spark 6,979 3.7%
5 Hyundai Accent 5,309 2.8%
6 Kia Rio 4,748 2.5%
7 Samsung SM3 4,623 2.5%
8 Chevrolet Spark GT 4,186 2.2%
9 Kia Morning 3,926 2.1%
10 Suzuki Alto 3,508 1.9%
11 Chevrolet Aveo 3,310 1.8%
12 Mitsubishi L200 3,193 1.7%

Chile Commercial Vehicles – 7 months 2011

Pos Commercial vehicles 7m 2011 %
1 Nissan Terrano 7,549 4.0%
2 Mitsubishi L200 3,193 1.7%
3 SsangYong Actyon 2,662 1.4%
4 Toyota Hilux 2,507 1.3%
5 Chevrolet D-Max 2,109 1.1%
6 Nissan Navara 1,759 0.9%
7 Ford Ranger 1,544 0.8%
8 Mahindra Pik Up 1,340 0.7%
9 VW Amarok 1,253 0.7%
10 Mazda BT-50 877 0.5%

Chile SUVs – 7 Months 2011

Pos SUVs 7m 2011 %
1 Hyundai New Tucson 2,326 1.2%
2 Hyundai Santa Fe 2,226 1.2%
3 Nissan Qashqai 2,007 1.1%
4 Toyota RAV4 1,913 1.0%
5 Nissan X-Trail 1,870 1.0%
6 Kia Sportage 1,639 0.9%
7 Suzuki Grand Nomade 1,480 0.8%
8 Jeep Compass 1,405 0.7%
9 Chevrolet Captiva 1,365 0.7%
10 Great Wall Hover 3 975 0.5%

You can find more info on the Chilean car market here.

All data was sourced on

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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12 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Chile Loves Japanese And American Cars. I Mean Chinese And Korean Cars....”

  • avatar

    Wow. Chile has gone completely Asian. I’m willing to bet that 20 or 30 years ago you’d have some VWs, Fiats, and assorted French fighting for first place along Chevy. Seems Chevy is the only one of the “traditional” makers still important in Chile.

    Hope one of our Chilean friends will explain as to when, why and how this shift happened.

    Another thought: What’s up with Ford? Chevy seems to have a presence in different markets all over the world while Ford is nowhere to be found except for the major markets. What’s up with that? Is this a winning strategy or Ford will find itself getting smaller as the world grows?

    Merci Matt. I always read your posts though I don’t always comment. As always, I find your obsession intriging and the articles fascinating.

  • avatar

    Thanks Matt!

    So the strange circular emblem is Samsung, I had no idea. I think I rode in a taxi SM7 and surmised it is some kind of obscure Chinese car. Chile must be one of the few markets where makes like Samsung and SsangYong sell lot of cars.

    Marcelo, lot of F150s on the streets of Santiago. On the other hand I have seen a Ford Ka too. Very strange mix of models.

  • avatar

    Chile is a weird market. Despite being right next to Argentina the models sold there are completely different. This is because Chile imports all of their cars, while Argentina and Brazil are extremely protectionist, and require you to build some cars there if you want to sell them, therefore only the big ones bother to touch them (not to mention the extremely lenient safety standards, high prices and obsolete platforms that come with protectionism). It seems most of South America is dominated by Asians, except for the protectionist countries where GM and VW still dominate.

    Also there a lot of European models (imported from Europe, not the Mercosur garbage that only somewhat resembles European models) but they aren’t as cheap as the Asian models, hence they don’t sell as well.

  • avatar

    I would never ever buy a new car, as I tend to buy older semi-luxury cars for 10% of their new price when they are 10 years old, but live in Chile and can explain the explosion in new car sales with just one word: Transantiago.

    Something like 4 years ago, the government revamped public transportation in the capital city Santiago. Overnight the old fashioned system of thousand of small one or two bus owners basically doing what ever they wanted was replaced by a centrally organized European style system with unified payment and based on feeders and trunks.

    It was a disaster. The company that was supposed to give the central monitoring needed to establish timing and spacing did not deliver at all. Waits at stops were 30 to 40 minutes and you were expected to make a couple of transfers along the way. People started having to wake up hours earlier to reach their jobs and sometimes walk miles to the nearest stop.

    So for the last 4 years, all middle class Santiago citizens have been buying cars. Traffic is now a nightmare and they only semi-reliable way to get anywhere is the subway, so houses near a subway station are worth 30% over one that need a bus ride to get to one.

    And what car have all this new drivers buying? The cheapest, most economical cars they can get. So there you have it. Down here, the cheaper cars are always the most sold.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Ummm, that Samsung SM3 looks a lot like a Nissan Almera/Pulsar/whatever it was called in other markets. I’m pretty much sure they’re the same.

    Marcelo, when you can please post the sales numbers of the kiwis

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Athos Nobile and Pleiades (below), sometimes Samsung uses Nissan designs but in this case the SM3 is an original Samsung design launched in 2005, then launched in different parts of the world as the Nissan Sunny or Almera Classic in 2006, then as the Renault Scala in 2010.

      See all versions here:

  • avatar

    The “Spark” in this photo is actually the older Daewoo Matiz (with a minor change to the front bumper and lights), as opposed to the newer GM Korea Spark. (Daewoo = GM Korea)

    As Athos Nobile correctly identified, the SM3 does look a lot like a Nissan. In Korea, Samsung uses Nissan designs and tweaks them just a little bit to make them unique. For example, the SM5 has been a tweak of the late 90’s Maxima (first generation – SM520) and the early 00’s Altima (second generation). The newest version is based on a Renault platform. First and second gen SM5 sedans, in addition to SM3 sedans, still roam the roads of Korea in LARGE numbers (many as taxis).

  • avatar


    I realise this is an old post and things may have changed. However, I’d appreciate some advice.

    I’m in the planning stage of a photographic tour of Chile in 2016 lasting between 3 and 6 months. Apart from a brief sojourn to Southern Peru to finish off a previous trip, I plan to spend the whole time in Chile. Probably fly into Santiago, buy a cheap, reliable car and then head north to Peru, all the way back south through the Lake District and down to Tierra del Fuego returning to Santiago.

    I need something I can sleep in so possibly an estate or SUV but also something smooth to do the kind of photography I’m thinking of. Has to be reliable and able to get the large distances between petrol stations.

    It also has to be easily resellable and I can afford $2-3000 so very cheap.

    I realise that this is a tall order but can anyone give me a starting point? The cars on sale in Chile are totally different to the UK.



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