Bus maker Marcopolo SA intends to expand in Europe in the next five years. The company's medium-term objective is to improve market share from 1% to about 5% by producing approximately 1,000 vehicles a year.

To achieve this, Marcopolo has invested €500,000 in the last six months to expand and improve its unit in Portugal and to rebuild its plant located in Coimbra. The improvements were mainly new equipment and modernising production lines.

Marcopolo Portugal director Paulo Julio said the company's objective is to have a strong presence in all of Europe, including in east Europe.

"Until today our activities have been basically restricted to the Benelux countries, Portugal, and some French islands (New Caledonia and Guadeloupe). With the increase in production capacity and with an expanded and renewed array of products, we have plans to increase our sales to England, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. We have plans to set up operations in Eastern Europe and Turkey."

Marcopolo sees the European market as the most advanced technologically and the most competitive.

"Every international bus maker needs to have operations in this market to be able to follow the fast and continuous changes and especially to learn from the elevated quality standards, and demands made by the local customers," said company vice-president José Antonio Fernandes Martins.

Marcopolo has been in Europe for about a decade and the plant in Coimbra was its first outside of Brazil.

"After we set up in Europe, we continued our 'internationalisation' programme, developing units in emerging markets, with the greatest potential for growth seen in Africa, Latin America, and China. Now with our operations consolidated in these countries and having products to international standards, we are prepared to go forward in Europe," added Martins.