15 Aug 18

Chinese Cars in Latin America

It is not a coincidence that a Chinese car brand, BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding), brought the first full electric vehicle to the Argentinian market this year, as you can read in our analysis. This article provides an non-exhaustive overview of the Chinese cars on the Latin American roads. 


Even though BAIC brought the first full EV to Argentina in January, and about 3,575 Chinese cars were sold in the first quarter of 2018; Chinese car brands were already present in Argentina before. Chery opened up the market with its Tiggo in 2008, being the only Chinese car brand that came on the market under the previous government of Christina Kirchner. 

With current President Mauricio Macri, the Argentinan market is totally open for Chinese brands, due to the elimination of the Import Declarations (DJAI). This resulted in the supply of more Chinese brands, such as Lifan, Geely, Foton, DFM (Dongfeng Motor Corporation), DFSK (including its truck division Donfeng Trucks), JMC (Jiangling Landwind), and Shineray, Haval, Great Wall (since May 2018), and JAC (since mid-2018).

Of note, the Socma Group – a company of the Macri family – is the official importer of Chery, DFSK, and JAC. 


BAIC entered the Colombian market in 2015 with its minivans MZ40 and MZ45, and added the X25 and X35 to its portfolio this year. Since 2018 DFSK, model 580, is available in Colombia as well. NAVECA (small trucks) and Changan (small vehicles) complete the Chinese car offer in Colombia. 


As one of the most important Chinese car brands, BAIC is represented in Chile as well, where 16% of the car market in the first semester of 2018 is made up of Chinese cars, or 31,000 vehicles according to the National Automotive Association of Chile (ANAC). Among the available Chinese brands are Great Wall, Jac, Geely, Changan and Haval. Even though 16 Chinese brands are registered for sale, only 5 of them represent 67% of the total transactions, i.e. Chery, Jac, Changan, Great Wall, and MG.


According to the Brazilian vehicle importers association, Abeifa, Lifan and Jac Motors were the most imported Chinese brands in the first semester of 2018, followed by Chery, BYD and last in the row comes Geely. Chery installed a factory in the country in the state of São Paulo in 2014; while BYD produces bus chassis for electric busses in the country.  

Even though it is the biggest Chinese car player in Brazil, Lifan does not have its own factory in the country, as it has one in Uruguay, from where it imports cars to the Mercosur trade bloc, including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. 


BYD did not only create a plant in Brazil, and sells its EVs in Argentina, but the Chinese EV brand is setting foot in Central America as well. BYD entered the market of Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala, where models of the Chinese-Guatemalan cooperation Luka – with an assemblage plant in Guatemala – are on the market as well. 

Authored by: Fien Van den steen