South America’s vehicle sales in the year’s first two months began on a positive note, despite a 3.4% decline in February from year-ago, based on the six countries WardsAuto tracks.

Combined January-February new-vehicle deliveries, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, totaled 775,659 units for a 2.2% gain on like-2011’s 759,162. The tally includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The increase occurred in spite of Brazil’s 0.2% dip. As the largest of the region’s vehicle markets, the country accounts for two-thirds of the total volume surveyed.

Venezuela led the vehicle-sales growth in the first two months, rising 16.9% compared with year-ago. It was followed by Argentina, up 10.9%; Colombia, up 9.8%; and Uruguay, up 0.2%. Chile, down 3.4%, was the only market surveyed to suffer a decline.

February’s downturn to 381,786 vehicle deliveries, compared with prior-year, partially was offset by January’s 8.3% gain to 393,873.

Venezuela led February vehicle sales with a 20.0% jump over year-ago, marking its third-straight monthly gain. Argentina followed, up 13.1%, for its 28th consecutive monthly increase. However, Brazil’s deliveries tumbled 9.0% after growing 9.6% in January, for its fourth decline in the last five months.

hstoddard@wardsauto.com