Brazil has never had so many Chinese cars on offer as it does in 2011. They arrived quietly three years ago extremely low priced and sold without fanfare. The odds against them were the tiny service network of unknown automakers, quality problems and, for better informed potential buyers, low ratings in crash tests abroad.

In coming months 12 new models are launching, mostly below R$40,000 (US$25,000), the segment that accounts for over 60% of domestic sales.

Chinese brands are now stepping up here. Chery has announced its first manufacturing plant in Brazil, in Jacareí, 50 miles from São Paulo City. Initial investment will reach US$150m for the first phase starting operations in 2013. The total amount, according to Chinese executives, will be $700m for a yearly output of 150,000 to 170,000 units but the automaker has not forecast when this volume will be reached.

On 28 April the Chery QQ will be launched after over six months' delay. This four-door, fully-equipped subcompact will become the lowest-priced car in Brazil: R$23,000 ($14,000).  The Fiat Uno Mille is similarly priced but is two-door and sparsely equipped.

Local group Effa, importers of Changhe and Lifan models, has announced that Lifan will partner a $70m investment for the construction of a development centre inland in the state of São Paulo, in an yet to be revealed city.

Smaller than the Lifan 320, a model will be designed there to suit Brazil and South American countries. It will be produced in China and exported to the region in 2014 or 2015.

Meanwhile, JAC had a hefty first month start. Strongly pushed by Group SHC and its 50 dealerships opened the same day, plus heavyweight advertising, sales were above the 3,000 planned units.

For now, there are two J3 compacts (hatchback and saloon). By year end the J5 sedan and J6 minivan will also be marketed.

“We will sell well above the 35,000 units forecast for 2011”, Sergio Habib, president of SHC, told just-auto.

“We will take 3% of the Brazilian auto market in three years,” he added.

Chery of Brazil president Luís Curi goes farther: “In 2020, I believe the Chinese brands together will hold 10% market share between cars and light commercials.”