Sales of new cars and trucks resumed growth in South America, based on WardsAuto’s tally of six markets in the region.

January deliveries in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela totaled 393,868 units, 8.3% above like-2011.

Aggregate year-over-year results for the six markets had declined in each of the previous two months, although sales for all of 2011 rose 27.8%.

Brazil, accounting for about two-thirds of the combined total of the surveyed markets, enabled the year-over-year gain with its own 9.6% increase over January 2011. That stopped a string of three straight months of declines in the country vs. the prior year.

Brazil’s increase also was notable because the government in mid-December imposed a 35% tax hike on imported vehicles, except those from Argentina and Mexico, protected by trade pacts. Import-car sales plunged in the ensuing weeks.

Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela also reported sales increases.

Additionally, the January results marked the best for the month in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia at least as far back as 2005, when WardsAuto began tracking monthly data for those countries.

Argentina’s 8.6% year-over-year increase in January was its 27th consecutive monthly gain.

Colombia’s sales rose 12.9% compared with like-2011, and Venezuela recorded a 9.7% upturn.

Rounding out the region, sales in Chile declined 5.1% from year-ago, and Uruguay was down 3.6%.

hstoddard@wardsauto.com