Opinion – Eduardo Sodré: Launches and stable production will change the face of the automotive market in 2023

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The national automotive market will have a year with changes in position and resumption of sales of brands that lost ground during the health crisis. The signs should be noticed already at the end of the first semester.

For now, there are still reflections of the breakdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unstable production rhythm is one such symptom.

A study by OLX showed that the third quarter was the best period for automakers in 2022. Activity on assembly lines registered a 34% increase compared to the period from July to September 2021.

From then on, inventories began to increase, which led brands to resume sales campaigns with prompt delivery and discounts. Sales followed a slower pace.

Retail initiatives did not have the expected effect in a market held back by high interest rates. According to Fenabrave (association of distributors), the sale of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to individuals ended 2022 with a drop of 11.8% compared to the previous year.

For 2023, rates are still expected to be high, but with banks that are less selective in granting credit. At this point, both the zero-kilometer and semi-new vehicle markets are affected.

The OLX report points to a deceleration trend in the average prices of advertised used vehicles. This means that the escalation of values ​​has cooled in recent months, but the accumulated highs have quite a weight in the purchase decision.

“The survey analyzed the variation in values ​​of the three best-selling models in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. While inflation in the period was approximately 6.1%, the Volkswagen Gol had an increase of 13.5% in price, Fiat Palio at 4.3% and Chevrolet Onix at 7.7%”, says the study.

With production capacity returning to normal through 2023, more brand new vehicles will be available. It is likely that higher-income consumers who have been postponing the exchange will be more interested in closing a deal.

It is at this point that some brands tend to recover what was lost during the pandemic.

Honda, for example, closed last year with 56,700 cars registered, a 30.4% drop in sales compared to 2021. The result is due to the process of renewing its products, which was delayed by the health crisis .

In 2023, the scenario should be very different for the Japanese automaker. It will be the first full year of commercialization of the new HR-V, which was launched in August. There will also be the 11th generation Civic and imported SUVs ZR-V and CR-V.

Volkswagen is also expected to show better results this year, after seeing sales fall by 10.4% in 2022.

The arrival of the Polo Track and the renewal of the Virtus compact sedan –which will take place in this first quarter– should have enough sales volume to cover the retirements of the predecessors Gol and Voyage. The Saveiro pickup will complement the updated compact line.

It is also expected that brands that were in decline will maintain a strong pace of growth due to the launch of new products. This is the case of the French Citroën and Peugeot, which grew 47.2% and 45.3%, respectively, between 2021 and 2022. Together, they closed last year with 65.2 thousand units licensed.

These are brands that are now part of the Stellantis group, which also achieved good results with Fiat and Jeep, with higher volumes. However, competition for the top of the market will be fierce.

General Motors will likely have one of this year’s most commercially successful vehicles: the new Montana pickup, which hits stores in February.

The model completes a product line that has been outstanding in sales – Onix and Tracker are always among the 10 best-selling cars in Brazil.

However, there is no expectation of a massive growth in registrations in 2023, given the recent history. In its annual report, the consulting firm Jato Dynamics recalls that, over the last 18 years, Brazil has gone through 8 years with some relevant crisis affecting the domestic market.

In this way, the many novelties of the automotive sector will compete for the same public. At the end of the year, the sales share ranking by brand will be quite different from that recorded in 2022.

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