Ford do Brasil has received US head office approval to build a new car in Brazil.

The automaker said only that the new vehicle would be made in its São Bernardo do Campo plant, in São Paulo state, for launch in 2008, but sources told just-auto that the so-called Project 402 is a low-cost compact car intended to be Ford's new entry-level model.

The car will be designed and developed in Brazil and will also be exported to other Latin America countries.

The company provided no details either of the car or the investment required to design and make it.

"It is a very competitive market and all the information can be used by competitors," said Ford do Brasil director of corporate affairs Rogelio Golfarb.

Ford expects high sales to greatly boost the company's local market share. The new model will also help mop up spare production capacity at São Bernardo do Campo.

The Camaçari plant, in Bahia state, currently works at full capacity making Amazon Project models (the Fiesta hatchback, Brazil-unique Fiesta sedan and EcoSport SUV) while São Bernardo do Campo makes only the low-volume Fiesta Street (the previous-generation Fiesta hatch), Ka and Courier compact pick-up. Another assembly line in the same plant produces trucks.

Rogério Louro