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The updated Brazilian Palio
For the first time since it started making cars in Brazil in 1976, Fiat has achieved sales leadership and held it for three consecutive months, writes Rogério Louro Alves.

With 36,084 cars sold in January, the Italian automaker held on to the leadership wrested in November and December from Germany’s Volkswagen.

VW has led the Brazilian car market since 1960 and sold 30,258 vehicles in January.

However, Fiat’s sales performance increased from mid-October when it launched the new generation Palio range of hatchback, sedan and Weekend station wagon models, facelifted with help from Italy’s Giorgetto Giugiaro. Only the Strada pick-up was left unchanged.

Though it builds and sells the Palio in other ‘developing’ markets such as South Africa, Fiat is keeping the new generation Palio exclusive to Brazil for the moment.

The Palio accounts for 60% of Fiat’s sales in the South American country. The increased sales have encouraged Fiat to invest $US10 million to boost production at its assembly plant in Betim, Minas Gerais state.

The factory currently produces 1,800 vehicles per day, but the automaker wants to up this to 2,000.