Brazilian vehicle sales reached 277,843 units in April, some 18.5% ahead of last year according to Brazil's automotive trade association, Anfavea.

The April gain comes in spite of the expiration of a tax break at the end of March and local observers say it reflects a strengthening Brazilian economy.

"Because of a strong economy, we are maintaining our projection for record sales in 2010," said Anfavea President Cledorvino Belini at a news conference. The association's standing forecast for 2010 sales is 3.4 million vehicles, up more than 8% from 2009.

In the first four months of the year vehicle sales reached 1,065,080 units, 18.5% ahead of last year.

Car sales in April were 207,959 units, 13.1% ahead of last year. Car sales in the first four months of the year reached 810,358 units, 13.9% up on the same period of last year.

Anfavea also said that Brazil's exports of vehicles (CBU and CKD) grew by 78% year-on-year in the first four months to 217,779 units.