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Brazil March 2020: VW teases Chevrolet, Fiat (-1%), Chery (+36.3%) stand out in lowest March in 14 years (-21.9%)

The Fiat Argo (+30.8%) posts the only gain among the Top 12 models.

The coronavirus crisis has hit Brazilian new car sales in March at -21.9% to 155.810 registrations, the weakest March volume in 14 years, since 2006 (148.234). The year-to-date tally is now down -8.2% to 532.549. However Brazil’s patchy response to the crisis means the new car market is in for a very tough ride over the coming months. On March 24, the state of São Paulo (46 million inhabitants) declared a state-wide quarantine, closing all commerce and non-essential services due to end on April 7 but extended to April 22. The Rio de Janeiro state (17 million) followed shortly as well as other states. However President Bolsonaro has continued to downplay the gravity of the virus and publicly attacked governors that introduced quarantine measures, meaning there has been no unified national response to COVID-19. In turn, confirmed cases have flared up in the past week: from 5.717 cases and 201 deaths as of March 31 to 12.232 cases and 566 deaths as of April 6, making Brazil one of the fastest-growing countries in the world in terms of infections and deaths.

Daily sales in Brazil throughout March 2020. Source Autoinforme.com.br

Accordingly, the health ministry announced that the outbreak is still in its early phase, with a peak expected no earlier than June. This in turns means the Brazilian new car market will likely collapse to minimal volumes for the next 4 to 5 months. Looking at the evolution of sales throughout March, the impact of quarantine measures is crystal clear, adding up to 147.331 up to March 22 (9.822 per opening day) but only 8.432 after that date (1.205 per opening day). Our local contacts report a (logical) increase in at-home new cars deliveries over the last week of the month but it hasn’t really had any significant impact on volumes. In fact, the large majority of registrations that occurred over the last week of March were deliveries of orders made before the quarantine period, with order books looking rather empty for April onwards.

Chery repeats at a record 11th place.

In the brands ranking, Chevrolet (-29.8%) holds onto the top spot by the skin of its teeth, namely 301 sales above Volkswagen (-13.4%) which was leading the charts halfway through the month. Note Chevrolet has led the monthly Brazilian brands charts continuously since October 2015 or 54 consecutive months. Fiat (-1%) does even better in third place with a stable volume year-on-year. Ford (-11.5%) and Hyundai (-17.4%) round out the Top 5 and are the only additional Top 10 carmakers outpacing the market. In contrast Renault (-39.5%), Honda (-33.9%), Toyota (-29.1%), Jeep (29%) and Nissan (-28.7%) all fall even faster than the market this month. Chery (+36.3%) swims upstream once again and is the only gainer in the Top 20, repeating at an all-time best #11 which is also the highest monthly ranking ever hit by a Chinese manufacturer in Brazil.

The Ford Ka is up to #2 in Brazil in March.

Model-wise, the Chevrolet Onix (-34.3%) enjoys a a 56th successive monthly win (no interruption since August 2015) but much larger-than-market drop results in its lowest market share in almost two years at 7.7% (since May 2018). Th Ford Ka (-14.8%) resists much better and steps up two spots on last month to #2, discarding the Hyundai HB20 (-22.2%) and Chevrolet Onix Plus down two ranks to #4. The Fiat Argo (+30.8%) scores the only year-on-year gain in the Top 12 – and a very impressive one at that – thanks to the addition of a Trekking SUV-looking variant. The Fiat Strada (-9.2%) and VW Gol (-14.2%) also outpace the market just as the VW T-Cross celebrates a 4th Top 10 finish in the past 5 months. Further down, the Fiat Cronos (+16.8%), Ford Ranger (+16.2%), Fiat Mobi (+13.8%), Ford Ka Sedan (+9.3%) and Chevrolet Tracker (+1.8%) are the only additional gainers in the Top 30, the Chery Tiggo 5X (+124.5%) breaks into the Top 40 for the first time at #39 and the Chery Tiggo 7 breaks into the Top 70 at #69.

Previous month: Brazil February 2020: Chery (+46.6%) hits Chinese record ranking at #11 in market back up 4.6%

One year ago: Brazil March 2019: Chevrolet (+18.8%), Renault (+14.8%), Chery (+304%) survive first market decline since April 2017

Full March 2020 Top 30 brands and Top 150 models below.

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