Citroen is launching its locally developed Aircross pseudo-SUV version first

Citroen is launching its locally developed Aircross 'pseudo-SUV' version first

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Citroën Brazil has shown journalists around its Porto Real manufacturing plant, 90 miles from Rio de Janeiro City, as production begins of the C3 Aircross, the C3 Picasso’s 'adventurer' version.

The domestic and South American media launch is scheduled for August and deliveries start in September.

Citroen hopes this model will add one percentage point to its market share in 2010, reaching 3.5% of the autos and light commercial segments.

Local chief Ivan Segal aims to sell 30,000 units in a full year.

The Aircross (as Citroen prefers tocall it) is a more refined, fully equipped compact SUV, with quality finish and accessories and a spare wheel mounted on the rear hatchback door - a pseudo-SUV like so many rivals fashionable here and abroad.

The company showed off the car’s interior but no photos were allowed. The Aircross gains a compass and two inclinometers (transversal and longitudinal axis) as seen in Fiat Brazil’s Adventurer models [and a feature of Mitsubishi SUVs for years - ed].

The glove box is generously sized and the top version has chrome trim inserts.

PSA Brazil has spent US$230m upgrading the plant and launching the Aircross and the more conventional C3 Picasso - similar to the model already sold in Europe - due out here in 2011.

This is part of a larger investment, $800million, to be made by 2012. The Porto Real plant's capacity will steadily be boosted from 160,000 to 220,000 vehicles a year, including Peugeots, and 280,000 engines annually.

The site employs 3,800 people.