SAO PAULO — Brazilian auto sales rose 2.9 percent to a record 3.4 million units in 2011, compared with the previous year, the daily O Estado de S. Paulo reported Tuesday, quoting industry sources.

The figure, marking the fifth consecutive sales record for cars and light vehicles, compared with the 3.3 million total recorded in 2010.

The daily said the 2011 total was however below estimates of the National Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (Anfavea) which had forecast a five percent hike early in 2011 before revising it to 3.3 percent in November.

Initial projections of the country’s car dealership federation Fenabrave for 2011 had forecast a 4.2 percent rise.

The paper said December sales were down 8.8 percent to 329,237 units compared with the same month of 2010 when they totaled 361,197.

O Estado said Italy’s Fiat remained the leading market brand in Brazil last year, selling 754,276 vehicles (22 percent), followed by Germany’s Volkswagen with 698,404 (20.4 percent), the US-based General Motors with 632,259 (18.4 percent), Ford with 314,016 (9.2 percent) and France’s Renault, with 194,294 (5.7 percent).

Brazil is the fourth-biggest car market in the world, behind China, the United States and Japan.

The country, with a population of 192 million, has approximately one vehicle per seven residents, leaving plenty of room for growth.

Source: AFP