Brazil, the world's fourth largest car market, sold a record 3.8 million vehicles last year, according to industry data.
Brazil's National Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (ANFAVEA) reported that sales were up 4.6 per cent on the previous year despite a 1.9 per cent drop in production, the first decline since 2002.
ANFAVEA forecast continued growth of between 3.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent in 2013.
Although overall sales were up, auto exports took a big hit last year, falling 20.1 per cent, from 553,000 vehicles in 2011 to 442,100 last year, the association said.
Industry officials said a troubled global market, especially in Europe, could lead to another overseas sales drop in 2013.
In 2011, Brazil was the world's seventh largest car manufacturer after China, Japan, the United States, Germany, South Korea and India.