Competition in Brazil’s automotive industry has never been tougher. With the country hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, carmakers are attempting to tap into the much anticipated investment boom and increase in economic activity.

Two leading names in Brazil’s commercial vehicle segment – MAN and Mercedes-Benz – have unveiled robust investment plans aimed at stepping up production in the country. The former overtook its German rival as the leader in the heavy commercial market, a segment where sales fell nearly 10% year-on-year (y-o-y) during 2009.

Estimates from the Brazilian car industry association Anfavea show that the market as a whole ended 2009 with record sales of 3.2mn units, up nearly 10% compared with 2008. Although much of the growth last year was led by passenger car sales, we except commercial vehicle growth to outperform that of passenger cars during the forecast period. We currently expect the auto market to reach sales of 5.1mn units by the end of 2014. Commercial vehicle sales will grow to nearly 1.14mn units, nearly double those of 2008.

Growth in vehicle production looks more contained, however. Owing to its export oriented nature, output suffered from falling export demand, prompting carmakers to maintain levels similar to 2008, at 3.19mn units, down a marginal 1% y-o-y. In 2010, Bmi expects domestic manufacturing to get some support from the overall recovery in Brazil’s export markets. We forecast growth of around 6.3% y-o-y in production by the end of the year. Investment will help production grow an average 7% y-o-y, reaching 4.4mn units by the end of 2014.

With the Brazilian auto industry showing strong signs that the crisis impact is clearly over, carmakers have turned their focus to Brazil in an attempt to corner as much growth as possible. While Germany’s Volkswagen plans to invest BRL6.2bn (US$3.47bn) in Brazil between 2010 and 2014, Ford Motor has put aside BRL4bn (US$2.2bn) to invest over the next five years.

Little has kept Brazil’s motorcycle segment from keeping pace. Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has started operations at its newly opened motorcycle plant in Manaus which has an annual production capacity of 25,000 units.

Despite the inflating size of its autos market, Brazil continues to rank in second position behind the US in BMI’s ratings this quarter, mainly constrained by lower vehicle ownership rates and low vehicle stocks. However, BMI points out that Brazil is one of Latin America’s most attractive places to do business. This alone has attracted foreign carmakers such as VW , Fiat and General Motors to the country.

Brazil Autos Report Q3 2010