Automakers cast eyes on Brazil
BRAZIL'S OWN SONIC: The Onix hatchback also enjoyed its debut at the Sao Paulo auto show.
Europe's economy is sagging and China's is slowing so the world's automakers have turned their attention to Brazil, a strong growth market and home to the 2012 Sao Paulo auto show, the Detroit News has reported.
Global debuts and first-class displays marked the presence at the show of General Motors, VW, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Fiat, Hyundai and a number of Chinese brands. Two days of news media previews began on October 22, 2012, the show opens to the public today (Oct 24).
CAPITALISING ON GROWTH
Most of these players are investing heavily in Brazil and other South American markets, the DetNews reports, to capitalise on expanding economies and strong demand for new cars and trucks.
GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said during the introduction of the Chevrolet Onix sub-compact SUV: "We were under-invested in Brazil before the bankruptcy but since then we have doubled our investment. We're not going to make that mistake again."
For its part, Chevrolet is chasing hard after market leaders Fiat and VW and the Onix – it shares its platform with the Sonic and comes with a 1.4 four-cylinder engine – fleshes out a Brazilian market portfolio that includes the Trailblazer, Malibu, Camaro, Cruze and Sonic plus local models, Spin, Captiva, Cobalt, Agile, S10 and Montana (Chev Ute in SA).
Among the Japanese brands, Nissan staged the world premiere of the Extrem, an urban coupe concept designed specifically for Brazilian tastes.
Shiro Nakamura, Nissan chief creative officer, said: "This concept showcases our passion and highlights our commitment to Brazil. We made a late start here but we want to show we are serious. Success in Brazil is vital to our plans for global growth."
Nakamura also added a local design studio may be in the pipeline.
Reflecting the importance of the Sao Paulo show, VW group chairman Martin Winterkorn arrived to help stage the world debut of the Taigun concept and the two-door Gol, a version of VW's Brazilian market entry-level hatchback.
Although inspired by Brazilian consumers' demand for compact SUVs,, equipped with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, the Taigun could be "sold around the world" if it went into production.
Brazilian market leader Fiat revealed the Bravo xtreme, a sporty version of its existing compact hatchback, and introduced two Ferrari and Maserati models for the local market.
Toyota gave Brazilians their first taste of the Prius family and also debuted the Etios.