As South America’s biggest market and the world’s fourth-largest, Brazil is seeing a wave of fresh cars, trucks and manufacturing investment from European and Asian brands, notably Renault, Nissan and Hyundai.
GM is leaning heavily on its extensive research, design and production capabilities in Brazil. It is expanding its product range and spending $450 million to increase output at its plant in neighboring Argentina.
GM ranks third in overall Brazilian sales, close behind Fiat and VW. Each holds about 20 percent of the market, expected to hit 3.8 million units this year. Ford, the other member of the Brazilian Big Four, has about 10 percent.
In South America as a whole, GM has an 18.5 percent share and has led its rivals for 11 years. It outsells other brands in Columbia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela with its Chevrolet nameplate.
The total market size approaches 6 million vehicles annually, which is larger than Japan, notes GM South America President Jaime Ardila.
While GM in the future may import Cadillacs to Brazil to cater to a small but growing luxury car market, for now the focus is very much on Chevrolet. “Chevrolet is considered a local brand by many consumers here,” says Ardila, whose organization includes 2,000 engineers and designers with global responsibility for compact pickups and several emerging-market cars, including the Cobalt, Spin and Onix.