17 Sep 18

Automobile sales in Latin America

In most countries, there is a correlation between the number of cars being registered and the national economy. In Latin America, Brazil and Mexico alone are home to approximately 70% of the vehicles in the 28-country region so knowing their markets is key to planning your next move.

Here is a brief look at the automotive industry in these two countries, as well as a few others.


Home to the largest car park in Latin America, Brazil has approximately 51.8 million cars or about one per four inhabitants. Considering all types of vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, LCVs, and motorcycles), the number jumps to about 95 million.

Since 2017, Brazil has been slowly recovering from its economic crisis. Last year, about 2.17 million new vehicles were registered, up 9.2% from 2016, and the trend looks to be continuing this year.

Chevrolet is the best-selling brand with 247,592 units registered last year, with Fiat trailing at 188,988 units and Volkswagen with 173,904 units. The top selling models in the country are the Chevrolet Onix (188,660 units), Ford Ka (120,307), and Hyundai HB20 (105,539).

On average, small vehicles depreciate 10% after the first year while larger vehicles such as SUVs lose about 26% of their value after the first year. 

2019 Chevrolet Onix (Source: GM)


The second largest automobile fleet in the region belongs to Mexico with its 41.7 million cars, being one per three inhabitants.

Its situation, however, is not as bright as its southern neighbor. In 2017, new vehicles sales fell by 4.6% to 1.53 million units and, according to the country’s automotive industry association AMIA, the rising inflation ended up reducing domestic sales.

The scenario did not improve during the first semester of 2018, but things could turn around as presidential elections are now over and NAFTA negotiations with the United States are practically finalized. 

The leading car brand in the country is Nissan with nearly 25% of the market, followed by GM with a 19% share and Volkswagen with 15%. Their best-selling models are Nissan Versa, GM Aveo, and Volkswagen Vento.

Considering all vehicles, with the exception of motorcycles, LCV’s represent 40% of the market.

2018 Nissan Versa (Source: Nissan)

Other key markets
Considering the region’s third largest car park, Argentina, its fleet size is 14.8 million (one in three people), of which 900,942 new vehicle registrations were reported in 2017, up 26.9% year-over-year.

As for the best-selling brands, they are Volkswagen, Chevrolet, and Ford, and the top selling models are Volkswagen Gol, Renault Sandero, and Toyota Hilux.

Further north, Colombia has a car park of 5.5 million (one in nine people). However, if considering the country’s more than 7 million motorcycles, the total reaches 13.3 million.

The best-selling brand in the country is Chevrolet, followed by Renault and Nissan, and the top selling models are Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sail, and Mazda 3. More than 220,000 new vehicles were registered in 2017 of which 53% were cars, 40% LCVs and 6.4% trucks and buses.

According to figures from Colombia’s national traffic registry, RUNT, new vehicle registrations (including motorcycles) represent about 40% of the market while used vehicles make up the rest.

Finally, in Chile, there are approximately 4.5 million cars (one in four people). The best-selling brands are Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Kia, and the top selling models are Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Sail, and Kia Morning.

Authored by: Daniel Bland