Who And What Is Moving In Brazil (Not Just To The Rhythm Of Samba)

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos

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

BrandQ1 2012Q1 2011ShareChange Fiat173,540171,90722.46%0.94% VW159,782167,02720.68%-4.33% GM136,75714274017.70%-4.19% Ford72,62274,2699.40%-2.21% Renault52,32538,3386.77%36.48% Nissan27,30713,3963.53%103.84% Honda23,21227,7893.00%-16.47% Hyundai21,51625,0952.78%-14.26% Toyota21,16522,0192.74%-3.87% Citroën16,42622,3672.13%-26.56% Peugeot15,57819,7082.02%-20.95% Mitsubishi12,09511,5521.57%4.70% Kia10,01717,3301.30%-42.19% Chery5,0572,5910.65%95.17% JAC5,0294610.65% Hafei3,1753,6180.41%-12.24%Mercedes-Benz2,1752,9310.28%-25.79% Land Rover2,1291,4880.28%43.07% BMW1,8882,1360.24%-11.61% Suzuki1,5621,4570.20%7.20% Iveco1,5021,1030.19%36.17% Audi1,0567520.14%40.42% Jeep9045130.12%76.21% Dodge7856710.10%16.98% Ssangyong7751,1230.10%-30.98% Volvo7587630.10%-0.65% Lifan5886920.08%-15.02% Mini5685990.07%-5.17% Chana479–0.06% Subaru3106920.04%-55.20% Jinbei3031290.04%134.88% Chrysler2391770.03%35.02% Troller2373560.03%-33.42% Smart1462400.02%-39.16% Porsche1312860.02%-54.19%772,749777,442100.00%-0.60%

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.

Join the conversation
2 of 13 comments
  • Lou_BC Panther black? Borrowed from Dodge panther pink? One could argue that any Camaro is a limited run.
  • SCE to AUX I much prefer the looks of the Tucson version, but either is a great value.How was the driveability, namely the electric/gas transition? I had H/K's first attempt in a 13 Optima Hybrid (now in my son's garage), and it was gruff and abrupt in that phase of driving.
  • SCE to AUX My guess of $60k from a few years ago may be low.My EPA estimate would be 263 miles, but that's unladen, temperate conditions, driven at the speed limit, and 0% left in the tank - all unrealistic.Subtract 15% for full payload, 20% for cold, 10% for speed, and 20% minimum battery level, and you're down to 129 usable miles at times. Even in nice conditions (springtime, town driving), I'd only expect 180 usable miles.This vehicle will have the same challenge as electric pickups do - when used as intended (traveling with family and stuff in this case), the utility is lost.When these hit US roads, expect to see videos of unhappy/surprised customers who thought this thing would go 260+ miles all the time. For starters, it should have a 150 kWh battery, minimum, and then you're talking real money.No, I wouldn't buy it, but it might be a fun rental for local driving.The common argument "once everyone who wants one gets one, sales will die" may not apply here. 789k New Beetles were sold in the US from 1998-2021. True, sales dropped 50% in 5 years, and another 60% in the next 5 years, but it ebbed along for two decades, helped by a refresh along the way. That's not a bad run for a niche car.
  • Theflyersfan I still have visions of Radio Shack and Circuit City and Silo - the huge walls filled with hundreds of aftermarket cassette players fit for any budget and style. And the eyes would always go to the Alpine ones with the green lighting. When I see the old Japanese cars like this, I'm always reminded of those aftermarket stereos because it was like a rite of passage slapping in your own cassette deck and maybe if your rich enough, four new speakers, and mega-bucks here, the equalizer and amp. And this Toyota still has less rust on it than an 07 Silverado, so there's one positive.
  • Parkave231 Agree with everyone else here -- big initial push, and then everyone who wants one will have one.I am curious whether, or how much, extra engineering they had to do with respect to the front crash structure. Yes, this isn't a cab-over situation like the original and many 60s/70s vans, but there's still not a lot of real estate between you and the front bumper. (Maybe it's just an illusion.) I suppose with just enough nose and empty space in front of the firewall they could have a pretty beefy impact system there.