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Ford Reveals New Urban Car– er, Ka Concept

How small is too small? Ford tests the waters.

by on Nov.14, 2013

Ford brings back an old name in the form of the Brazilian-designed Ka Concept.

How small is too small? That’s something Ford is trying to find out with the unveiling of its Ka concept, a microcar design developed in Brazil that it hopes will gain some traction around the world in one of the auto industry’s fastest-growing market segments.

A good bit smaller than the current Fiesta model, the Ford concept revives a name first used on one of the maker’s more eccentric offerings in the late 1990s and targets a subcompact segment estimated to reach 6.2 million sales annually by 2017.

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The Ford Ka Concept is the second recent model developed by Ford’s Brazilian studio, following the new EcoSport that is rolling into showrooms from South American to Shanghai.

“Ford has a long history in Brazil, bringing development, jobs and growth to the region,” said the maker’s Chairman Bill Ford. “As an integral part of our global growth strategy, we are committed to bringing world-class products to Brazil and to helping the region create global vehicles for the rest of the world.”


Brazilian Market a Booming Free-for-All

Flood of new product at Sao Paulo Motor Show underscores intense competition.

by on Oct.23, 2012

The more striking designs appearing at the 2012 Sao Paulo Motor Show - Nissan's Extrem concept shown here - reveal the intensifying competition in Brazil.

While the plan still needs final government approval, BMW is set to become the latest maker to open an automotive assembly plant in Brazil.  The new factory is expected to produce about 30,000 vehicles a year once it opens in 2014 in the southern state of Santa Catarina.

Brazil is a relative latecomer to booming Brazil which, depending on how you measure it, has become the world’s third or fourth-largest national automotive market.  But it’s by no means the only global automaker eyeing additional opportunities.  An even bigger Nissan factory, located near Rio, is also set to open in 2014.

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The pace of competition is readily apparent at this week’s Sao Paulo Auto Show in the Portugese-speaking nation’s biggest – and most traffic clogged city.  Virtually every major automaker, including the “usual suspects” from Europe, the U.S., Japan and South Korea, as well as an assortment of Chinese brands, are competing for the eye of Brazil’s rapidly expanding middle-class.


VW Unveils Subcompact Taigun CUV Concept

Brazilian show car hints at upcoming, Polo-based crossover.

by on Oct.23, 2012

The Taigun appears to share its platform with VW's subcompact Polo.

Sao Paulo auto showgoers are getting their first look at the Volkswagen Taigun Concept this week, a crossover-utility vehicle that is likely to return in production form in the not-too-distant future.

Based on the same platform as the subcompact VW Polo, the Taigun appears to be the prototype for one of two new CUVs Volkswagen is planning – as reported last week. A production version of the Taigun would slot into the VW line-up below the current Tiguan model.

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While some competitors have decided to push the styling envelope at the Sao Paulo – notably Nissan with its Extrem 2+2 concept – the VW Taigun maintains the maker’s relatively conservative design language, albeit adopting a more upright grille and adding a skidplate to give the show car some off-road credentials.


Nissan Goes to Extrem With Hatchback Concept

Maker targeting big growth in Brazil.

by on Oct.22, 2012

The Nissan Extrem show car borrows design details from the GT-R and 370Z.

Nissan is going to Extrem lengths in its bid to plant its flag in the booming Brazilian market.

That’s the name of its new concept hatchback – the first show car the Japanese maker has ever developed specifically for Brazil, now the world’s third-largest national automotive market.  Don’t be surprised to see elements of the Nissan Extrem show up in production form once the maker’s new assembly plant near Rio starts rolling in late 2013.

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The 2+2 was developed by Nissan’s advanced styling studio in Santa Monica, California, Nissan Design America, or NDA.  But it’s specifically targeted at Brazil, which has seen some of the fastest automotive sales growth in the world in recent years, tracking just behind the fast-paced Chinese market.

Described by Nissan global design director Shiro Nakamura as “high character,” the Nissan Extrem looks a bit like the love child of a Murano and Hyundai Veloster.


Nissan Teases “High-Character” Concept to Debut at Sao Paulo Show

Meant to “dazzle,” concept could be one of 51 new models.

by on Oct.18, 2012

Nissan offers a hint of a "high-character" concept debuting in Brazil later this month.

As part of its Nissan 88 business plan, the second-largest of Japan’s automakers is planning to roll out 51 new vehicles in the coming years.  That includes mainstream offerings like the 2013 Altima, battery-electric vehicles like the planned Infiniti LE – and just might include a “high-character” hatchback that would be based on a show car set for debut at the Sao Paulo Auto Show, in Brazil, in a few weeks.

Nissan has offered up a hint of what it has in store with a pair of strikingly unusual teaser images.  Painted in a brilliant sunrise hue, the renderings appear to reveal a three-door – though some are suggesting the unnamed model might be a distinctly different design ala the Hyundai Veloster.

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The choice of the annual Brazilian auto show all but certainly hints at a relatively mainstream price tag and compact or smaller body, meanwhile.  The biggest sellers in the Portugese-speaking country target the so-called Popular Car segment.


Nissan-Renault Launch $1.8 Bil “Brazil Offensive”

Makers aim to double share in booming market by 2016.

by on Oct.06, 2011

Renault's new Duster 4x4 is part of an aggressive product program aimed at Brazil that will see it - and Nissan - launch 23 new models.

Nissan and its alliance partner Renault will invest $1.8 billion in an aggressive campaign to double their market share in the booming Brazilian auto market over the next five years.

Expanding upon earlier announcements, the two makers will launch 23 new models and expand their combined production capacity to 580,000 vehicles annually.

“Brazil represents a tremendous opportunity – both as a manufacturing base and as the home of a new generation of Renault and Nissan customers,” said Carlos Ghosn, who serves as CEO of both Nissan and Renault, during an announcement in Rio de Janeiro. “Brazil weathered the recession and emerged as the clear engine of growth for Latin America in the 21st century. We look forward to contributing to the region’s rapidly evolving manufacturing and technological expertise.”

Fueled by its fast-growing middle-class, automotive demand in Brazil has been red hot and that’s leading makers to commit to invest billions to boost their production capacity.  But could they heading for trouble?  The market has seen some unexpected slowdowns this year which raises concerns about Brazil’s ability to maintain its momentum at a time when much of the rest of the global economy – even China – is showing signs of trouble.

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But Ghosn – who is a Brazilian native – is clearly convinced the market can overcome its problems.  With a population of 190 million, Brazil has become the largest economy in Latin America, in large part due to a 25% growth in its middle class over the past decade.  Vehicle ownership surged from 121 per thousand in 2002 to 158 by 2008.


Brazil Betting on Continuing Car Boom – But Could it go Bust?

Exports down, imports up even with makers boosting capacity by nearly 2 million.

by on Sep.02, 2011

An Opel Astra sold by GM in Brazil.

While the spotlight has been shining on China and India, in recent years, there’s another booming market among the so-called BRIC nations.  Fueled by its fast-growing middle-class, automotive demand in Brazil has been red hot and that’s leading makers to commit to invest billions to boost their production capacity.

But could they heading for trouble?  The good news is that sales bounced back last month after a discouraging June decline.  But even with demand heating up again, some observers wonder whether the market could be facing problems – especially for Brazil’s domestic producers, as importers flood the market and undercut them on price.

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With a population of 190 million, Brazil has become the largest economy in Latin America, in large part due to a 25% growth in its middle class over the past decade.  The Portugese-speaking nation’s economy was on a roller-coaster ride for much of the last decade but recent reforms have been paying off handsomely.


Brazil Set to Outsell Germany?

The land of tomorrow…today?

by on Apr.15, 2010

Though the market has become more global, Brazil has also seen the development of some unique models, like the Chevrolet Sabia.

Brazil is the land of the future…and always will be, or so goes the snarky joke about Latin America’s largest country, a nation that always seems to be so close to becoming a truly first world economy, only to see itself set back by yet another crisis.

But when it comes to the automotive industry, at least, Brazil is finally in gear and, it seems, on a fast course to overtake Europe’s largest national market, Germany – perhaps this year – according to several new studies, including one by J.D. Power and Associates.

The Brazilian market has been on a shaky march for more than a decade, set in motion by that government’s creation of the so-called “Popular Car” segment.  Originally seen as a small niche of stripped-down econocars aimed at first-time buyers hoping to improve their lives, the Popular Car segment is now a major force in the Brazilian auto industry.

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Meanwhile, IHS Global Insight reports that improving access to credit has increased the number of potential car buyers in the nation of 206 million people by 50%.


Building BRICs: The Four Markets That Could Soon Dominate the Automotive World

New study looks at how to succeed in a rapidly evolving automotive market.

by on Jan.21, 2010

Nano-nano, as Mork might say, these days. The $3,000 Tata Nano is an example of the challenges faced by makers trying to succeed in the BRIC markets.

They may still be considered “emerging” markets, but China alone hs already laid claim to being the world’s largest automotive market and, according to a new report, just the four so-called “BRIC” countries alone will soon account for a full one of every three global car sales.

Competing in Brazil, Russia, India and China won’t be easy, warns the study, by he Boston Consulting Group, but carmakers and suppliers who try to survive in only the major industrialized markets will find it increasingly difficult to survive.

“This is a radical shift,” said Xavier Mosquet, head of BCG’s Detroit-based automotive practice.  “By 2014, one-third of the world (demand) will be in those four markets.”

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In 2007, those four countries generate sales of 15 million passenger cars.  The number srged to 19 million last year, even as the developed markets of North America, Europe and Japan saw sales tumble.  By 2014, the BCG study anticipates BRIC volumes will rise to a collective 25 million, while the industrialized markets will barely recover to pre-crisis levels of around 55 million.