PSA Group has stopped production until the end of the month to prepare its Porto Real plant, in Rio de Janeiro state, for assembly of the new Citroën C3 compact hatchback, writes Rogério Louro Alves.

PSA is investing $R90 million ($US 37.5 million) in the factory which was opened in February 2001 to build the Peugeot 206 and Citroën Picasso.

C3 production begins in the second half of this year for a Brazilian launch at the beginning of 2003 with exports to other South America markets following.

Brazilian C3s will have a 1.6-litre 16-valve engine, made in the PSA Group’s new engine in Porto Real and a second engine option.

“We will equip the C3 with either an imported 1.4-litre engine or with a Brazilian one-litre 16-valve engine made by Renault”, said Citroën do Brasil president Sergio Habib.

The Renault engine is already used in the Brazilian-built 206, Renault Clio line and the Uruguayan-built Twingo.

Next month, when Porto Real production resumes, PSA will increase 206 output from 105 units per day to 180 with a second shift.

The Picasso line already works two shifts to turn out 90 units a day.