Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador

Before we go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers that genuine Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

Big in Ecuador: source
Big in Ecuador: source

And that country is the topic of today’s investigation. The Republic of Ecuador lies on the north-west coast of South-America. Its capital is Quito but the largest city is Guayaquil. About 16 million people live in the country. They drive on the right (where possible) and the economy is dependent on commodities. Vehicle sales were down 30% last year (2015). That’s a big blow for Chevrolet who hold about 50% of the market.

What do they drive?

It surprised to me to find that Google’s auto complete wrote in most of the phrase “Ecuador’s best selling cars” before I got past “b”. There must be a lot of people who want this kind of information.

The first snippet of chatter is that Chevrolet’s D-Max is the most popular car in the country and that tells you that it must be a tough driving environment (or does it? Off-roaders are popular in Chelsea, aren’t they?). The D-Max is a stonking crew-cab pick-up. It’s not really a Chevrolet at all. Isuzu make it and it has ten other nameplates and is branded as an Isuzu, Holden and GMC. The Ecuadorian one is assembled in Quito but there are 14 other places around the world where this car is made. You can get one in the UK where it is sold as an Isuzu Rodeo.

After Chevrolet, Kia take second place (nearly 10%) and Hyundai (7%) in third. The rest makes do with shreds of the market: Mazda, Toyota, Great Wall and FAW. Chevrolet’s main models in terms of volume are all badge-engineered products: the Aveo Family, Grand Vitara, Aveo Emotion and Sail. Isn’t it odd that Ford don’t make it into the top ten or that VW seem to have a small presence?

Chevrolet looks like little more than a label which is probably why they didn’t do well in Europe, being merely a sticker to slap on whatever vehicles came in at the right price-point for them. But that approach works in Ecuador.  In marked contrast, Ford’s range is one that could slot easily into a dealership in Chobham, Oerlikon, Montelimar or Villingen-Schwenningen. Some customers might notice the Fusion in place of the Mondeo and might even ponder the absence of the Ka, Fiesta, C-Max, Galaxy and Mustang. Some could be curious about the Escape, Edge and Explorer but otherwise it’s the same range. Incidentally, Ford in Peru sells the Fiesta and offer it as a saloon.

If Kia can sell this why can´t Ford sell more Fusions? Image: Kia.com
Boo! Image: Kia.com

We really have hit paydirt here with this cursory look at Ecuador’s cars, haven’t we? There’s GM in at number one with a load of commodity cars while Ford languish somewhere under the bottom of the list with their own offerings (some of which are also utility vehicles). Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia are in second place with a full range of products. “The power to surprise” is the Kia Ecuador motto. And surprise us they do. It’s like flipping Christmas Day when you open their website. Its list of cars is so long it broke out of my phone,

Very red: carbase.com
Very red: carbase.com

cracking the screen. Deep breath: Soul EV, Soul, Picanto, Rio, Cerato Forte, Cerato R, Optima, Quoris, Carens, Sportage (three flavours), the Grand Carnival and K3000S (a utility vehicle). Among all that data dump the thing to turn your bloodshot and tired eyes to is the Cerato Coupe (which I didn’t mention in the list) and the Quoris and the Soul EV. Not only are Kia offering a whole load of cars, they are even dipping their toes into the EV market in what is, to be fair, a developing country albeit one with superb hats. Again, Ford is coming out of this quite badly, no?

FCA? Where are they in this? They sell their Jeep and Dodge SUVs and CUVs. And Fiat, with their skill at making small, affordable cars – all they have in their windswept and empty showrooms are the Fiorino van and the Fiat 500. Crikey goodness. And! The Fiorino is just a badge-engineered variant of the Peugeot Bipper and the Citroen Nemo. A generation back the Fiorino had Fiat engineering behind its storied badge.

Maybe I’ll come back to Ecuador again… This is only scratching the surface.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

5 thoughts on “Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador”

  1. Fascinating. A link to the KIA website would have been very useful – or would that be a risk of breaking DTW too?

  2. Here in the Old World, it seems as if Kia would prefer we didn’t know about the ‘utility vehicles’. I don’t suppose they fit with their “affordable premium” ambitions, but I was rather taken with the Ceres 4WD light truck, a sort of Korean ‘Rastrojero’ much favoured by Greek and Cypriot smallholders.

    And the badge engineering of the Bipper and Nemo into the Fiorino – it’s the other way round. The PSA pair and the Fiat are based on the Punto platform shared with GM (and used on things as diverse as the MiTo, Doblò, Nuova Tipo and Renegade). They are built in Turkey by Tofaş (owned in equal shares by Koç Holding and FCA). The Fiats get Fiat engines (occasionally used by GM and Ford), the Citroëns and Peugeots get PSA units.

    To paraphrase that Canadian philosopher, why do they have to go and make things so complicated?

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