Mitsubishi's independent Brazilian importer is to revamp its factory and begin car production.

The Souza Ramos Group already assembles six versions of the L200 pick-up truck, including the latest Triton, plus the Pajero TR4, Full and Dakar SUVs, and also imports the Outlander, Lancer and ASX built-up.

Updating the factory in Catalão, state of Goiás, should be complete, after an investment of some US$500m, by 2013 so car production can start. The automaker is working under the new Brazilian automotive regime which mandates increased local content and production processes that are full manufacturing rather than simple assembly of imported parts (such as panel pressing and engine casting/machining).

A technology development centre complete with proving grounds will be built in coming years, most likely in Catalão, to help the group comply with the new government rules.

Local production of the 'nationalised' Lancer saloon and ASX crossover will enable the brand to increase sales in Brazil where it currently accounts for under 2% of the car and light commercials market.

The group has also confirmed it will produce the new Mirage 'world car' hatchback launched at the Tokyo show last year and now in production in Thailand.

With this move into car production, Souza Ramos will match rival independent Habib Group which is expected soon to build a plant in Bahia state to produce the Chinese JAC J3 hatchback and Turin saloons in Brazil.

Souza Ramos Group has declined to reveal the additional investment needed to produce and market the Mirage which will surely requiring an increase in the size and spread of the Mitsubishi dealer network.