Sales are exceeding all forecasts for the Brazilian market so far this year. From January to April, deliveries rose 23% year on year, suggesting an all-time record of over 2.2m units is likely in 2007.

This is more good news in a month celebrating production of 50m by the Brazilian motor industry. The first car (a DKW estate) rolled off the assembly line in 1956.

Fiat has just announced the hiring of more workers (no numbers revealed, though) to start next month, when the full third shift is due to operate. Currently, there are 13,000 direct employees and 6,000 contract workers in its Betim, State of Minas Gerais plant.

The Italian automaker has said that it may even make use of its light commercial plant in Sete Lagoas (Minas Gerais) and the Cordoba, Argentina plant, idled since 2001, to meet demand. Six new models – including the Linea sedan – are in the pipeline for this year.

At Volkswagen, 700 new workers will be hired to boost output of the best-selling Gol from 850 to 1,050 units daily at its Taubaté, São Paulo manufacturing unit. Next month that plant will also go three-shift, as will the other plant in São José dos Pinhais, Paraná. Ford’s Camaçari unit has been on three shifts for more than two years.

Honda has concluded a $100m investment in Sumaré and now the Civic and Fit [Jazz] will be produced at a rate of 400 units daily versus 240.

Renault will move Clio saloon and hatchback production to its Cordoba, Argentina plant, where these models are already produced, making that facility more efficient.

The French automaker needs to make room for the imminent Logan (three body sttles) and a fourth model due to arrive in 2009, as well as Nissan products.

The most important, though quite discreet, announcement was the Hyundai-Kia group’s plan to build a new plant in Brazil, presumably in São Paulo State. Investment would total $1bn for KIA models at 100,000 units per year. The chairman of the group, Chung Mong-koo, was in the country last week, but plans were revealed only after his return to South Korea.

Group Gandini, which represents Kia in Brazil, was invited to participate in the project. The group’s president, José Luiz Gandini, exclusively told just-auto that “the level of partnership is still under study, but this will be a direct investment by the Koreans”. As for the pending fiscal debt (unpaid subsidy refunds)with the Brazilian government carried over from the collapse of Asia Motors, it is now being clarified by Hyundai in a New York courtroom. This was the reason why the recently-inaugurated Hyundai plant in Anápolis, Goiás, relied entirely on Brazilian group Caoa.

Fernando Calmon