The steep acceleration of Brazilian auto production this year has raised fears that suppliers could face bottlenecks and have difficulty meeting orders.

Waiting times for some heavy trucks and buses have already lengthened. However, this is unlikely to be repeated with light vehicles generally (95% of total production).

"We are able to meet our clients' demands. It's a manageable challenge and investments of US$1.3bn are on the way for this year," Paulo Butori, President of Auto Parts Industry National Union told just-auto.

"Our problems are bottlenecks, especially with tier 2 and 3 suppliers."

A recent analysis has shown that 10% of companies close to capacity limits are failing to deliver on time.

But this was not sufficient to cool down the optimistic atmosphere at the VIII International Auto Parts, Equipment and Service Exhibition (Automec) in São Paulo (SP) last week.

The event attracted 1,350 exhibitors.

Yes, the Chinese were there. In the 2005 Automec they totalled 44; it was 65 exhibitors this time.

A Chinese light alloy wheel may retail for half the price of a locally-made one, but doubts about quality persist.

Delphi presented one of the main attractions of the exhibit: a flex-fuel gasoline-ethanol Yamaha motorcycle, which is due to hit the market within two years.

Tenneco-Monroe has developed in Brazil a remote, wireless monitoring system for checking suspension damper efficiency based on working cycles. Warning for damper replacement comes from a dashboard-mounted light.

The device sells for less than US$50 and will be exported following the interest shown by other countries.

Saint-Gobain auto glass manufacturer is betting on electric windshield defoggers of the tiny, almost invisible wire kind aimed at less costly, non air-conditioned cars.

Companies such as Sabó (gaskets), TMD Friction (brake pads and linings), BorgWarner (turbochargers) announced at their press conferences significant efficiency gains and increased exports in spite of a relatively strong Brazilian currency.

Waste elimination and boosted productivity are part of the positive story.

The Brazilian auto parts industry includes some 648 companies, employs 200,000 people and exported products worth US$8.8bn last year.

Fernando Calmon