* See the Top 150 best-selling models and Top 20 brands by clicking on the title! *
Brazilian consumers bought 228,728 light vehicles in March, a harsh 15% contraction over March 2013, bringing the market back into negative over the first Quarter of 2014 at 774,400 units (-2%). If the brands ranking remains relatively untouched with Chevrolet regaining the 2nd spot off Volkswagen, Hyundai taking its distance over Renault in 5th place and Fiat dominating as usual, the models charts experience nothing short of an atomic explosion this month. Traditionally extremely stable to the point of becoming borderline boring, Brazilian models data got a shake 18 months ago with the arrival of the Chevrolet Onix/Hyundai HB20 couple, and lately the new generations Ford Fiesta and Fiat Strada have made some way. But this is another level altogether, and for no less than 4 main reasons:
1. The VW Gol is not the best-seller
This may seem mundane, but it has become an extremely rare event in Brazil. In fact, in the last 20 years, only two models had managed to beat the Gol in a months ranking before today: the Fiat Palio in November 1997, September 06, October 06 and August 07 and the Fiat Uno in February 2011, December 2011 and March 2012. This means that the VW Gol has been #1 in Brazil for 232 of the past 240 months (note 1999-2001 monthly data isn’t available). But wait there’s more: not only is the VW Gol not the best-seller this month, but – shock, horror – it is down to #3. This has not happened in… 25 years, since November 1989 exactly when the Gol ranked below the Ford Escort and Chevrolet Monza. Why this sudden access of weakness? 2 main reasons: first, the discontinuation due to non-compliance to new environmental laws of the very successful previous generation of the model that was still on sale alongside the new one. Second, the arrival of the VW Up undermining the Gol, potentially not on size but surely on coolness, and selling 3,517 units in March (#16).
2. A commercial vehicle, the Fiat Strada, is the most popular vehicle in the country
There are two firsts in this sentence: for the first time in the history of Brazilian automobile, a commercial vehicle takes the lead of the sales charts. And for the first time in the 16 year-history of the nameplate, the Fiat Strada tops the monthly ranking. The more bizarre feat is that the Strada does not actually deliver its best-ever volume in March with 13,017 units vs. 13,459 last month. It lodges its highest ever market share though at 5.7% vs. 5.5% last month. The explanation for this pole position could simply be mathematical, as the Gol traditionally evolved in a 6.5%-9.5% share tunnel over the past few years. Its sudden fall below 6% has suddenly made the Brazilian models ranking a lot more competitive.
3. Two Fiats take the first two spots
To my knowledge this has simply never happened ever in Brazil! Both the Fiat Uno and Palio managed to hold the monthly top spot a few times as we have seen in 1., however they never ‘coordinated their efforts’ to deliver a 1-2 like the Strada/Palio couple achieved this month. The Uno topped the charts in the years leading to the 1996 launch of the Palio nameplate: 2 months in 1993, 4 months and leading the market overall in 1994 and 3 months in 1995, then again once the current generation launched in 2011-2012. The Palio for its part did so from 1997 onwards and then sporadically in 2006-2007. The only time Fiat could have managed a 1-2 was in January 1995 when the freshly imported Fiat Tipo surprised everyone by taking the lead of the ranking, but the Uno was #3 that month behind the Gol. So we are witnessing a new milestone passed by the Italian manufacturer in Brazil.
4. The Chevrolet Onix is only 300 sales below the VW Gol
Launched purely and solely to target the VW Gol back in October 2012, the Chevrolet Onix nearly achieved its destiny this month. Ranking 4th with 12,245 sales and 5.1% share, the Onix breaks its monthly ranking, volume and market share records all at once in March, and stops only 300 units short off the VW Gol! Keeping in mind Fiat Palio and Uno sales include two generations, this means the Onix is actually well ahead of the new Palio, new Uno, and of course the Hyundai HB20 and Toyota Etios. Why this unquestionable success? Simply that Chevrolet hit the bullseye with the Onix in terms of style, size and equipment for the price. So if not in 2014 then definitely in 2015, the Onix could be the first Chevrolet to fight for the Brazilian pole position in almost 30 years, since the Monza was Brazil’s best-seller in 1986.
Previous month: Brazil February 2014: Fiat Strada up to record 2nd place!
One year ago: Brazil March 2013: Hyundai HB20 knocks on podium’s door
Full March 2014 Top 150 models and Top 20 brands Ranking Tables below.