Chery Automobile has broken ground for a US$400m car assembly plant in Brazil.

The initial phase, with annual capacity of 50,000 units, is expected to be up and running in September, 2013, making Face and other Chery models, the company told the Reuters news agency. Capacity will be raised to 150,000 units eventually, it added without specifics.

Chery, which started exports in 2002, is now China's biggest auto exporter, with shipments jumping 88.5% to 71,827 vehicles in the first half. It sold 18,000 vehicles in Brazil alone during the period, up 321% from the year-ago level.

It aims to ship 120,000 cars overseas for the full year, up over 30% year on year, mostly to developing markets in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Chery models are currently made in 15 countries mostly via partnership agreements.