Brazil’s Samambaia Group and American company Lacaro Auto Distributors have formed a joint venture called Cross Lander to make Romanian Aro vehicles in Brazil, writes Rogério Louro.

Cross Lander has signed a technology transfer agreement with Aro and will start CKD build of the Aro 24 SUV model in a plant in Manaus, Amazonas state, at the end of July.

Brazilian Kia Motors importer Gandini Group built the Besta van from CKD kits in this plant in 1994.

The Aro 24 will be called CL-244 in Brazil. To build it, Cross Lander is investing $US32 million in the factory with capacity to make 3,000 vehicles a year under the supervision of Romanian engineers.

Cross Lander expects to produce about 800 units of the SUV by the end of the year.

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About 70% of the components used to assemble the CL-244 will be made in Brazil, including the International Engines 2.8-litre, 132 bhp turbodiesel engine, Eaton transmission, Moura batteries and TRW steering components. The body and chassis are imported in CKD form from Romania.

As well as introducing Aro vehicles to Brazil, Cross Lander will also export half of production to the United States through its partner Lacaro Auto Distributors.

Lacaro has previously distributed Aro vehicles in other Western Hemisphere countries but not the United States.

Cross Lander is also evaluating exporting the off-roaders to other South America markets.

After launching the CL-224, Cross Lander plans to start production of an Aro 24-based pick-up, called the CL-330, from September.

The pick-up will be introduced during the São Paulo International Automobile Trade Show (Salão Internacional do Automóvel de São Paulo) that will open on 10 October.