Citroën
will start to sell a locally-made Xsara Picasso minivan in Brazil next week, intensifying
competition in a segment that until recently was the sole preserve of French arch-rival
Renault.

Launched in March 1999, Renault’s scenic was, until this month, the only
minivan made in Brazil but Chevrolet launched an Opel-designed, locally-built
Zafira last week and now Citroen is weighing in as well.

Anticipating the competition, Renault updated the Scenic at the beginning of
the month.

“About 18,000 minivans were sold last year but this will rise to around
50,000 units in 2001”, said General Motors do Brasil marketing director
Joseph Damour.

Citroën expects the Picasso to help it double Brazilian sales to 18,000
vehicles this year.

“We will sell about 1,100 PICASSOS each month or about 9,000 this year”,
said Citroën do Brasil president Sérgio Habib.

Renault expects to sell 2,000 Scenics a month and General Motors about 1,500
Zafiras.

The
Citroën Picasso minivan

IMS
Corporate Profile –


PSA
Peugeot Citroen


Next year, Citroën expects to increase Picasso sales to 1,200 a month
while Renault and GM both plan monthly sales of 2,500 minivans.

The Brazilian-built Picasso is a new two-litre petrol version not yet on sale
in Europe. “Our model is more sophisticated and will be copied in Europe”, Habib
said.

The Brazilian Picasso has a French-made 118bhp 16-valve engine similar to that
used in the Xsara hatchback range. So far, the European Picasso has been offered
only with 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines and a two-litre HDI diesel.

Though PSA will start making a 1.6 litre 16-valve engine in a new Brazilian
engine plant in 2002, it will not go into the Picasso.

The Brazilian Picasso also has unique colour-matched exterior parts (side mouldings
and bumpers) and a rear air conditioner system.

The new Citroën minivan is the first vehicle built in the new PSA group
plant opened on February 1, in Porto Real, Rio de Janeiro state.

The plant also produces the Peugeot 206 with a one litre 16-valve engine that
will be launched in Brazil at the end of June.

Citroën also plans to make a new compact car in Brazil.

“We want to sell 60,000 vehicles a year by 2004. To meet this target we
will start building a new compact model locally in 2003”, Habib said.


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The
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