Renault Brazil has announced a US$550m investment here for the 2010-2012 period. It is the third automaker, in less than a month, after Ford ($2bn) and Volkswagen ($3bn), to boost investment in the Brazilian market.

The French company's spend is purely on launching two new products, however, because it currently uses just half of its installed capacity of 250,000 units yearly.

In 2009, Renault will achieve 4% of local passenger car and commercial market share, less than the 5% achieved in the early 2000s.

The first new model will be the compact Duster SUV which Dacia is launching in eastern Europe in the first quarter of 2010.

Down here it will have the same name and share its platform with the Renault Logan and Sandero also produced in São José dos Pinhais (Paraná state).

Local Renault CEO Jean-Michel Jalinier told just-auto that "there will be notable differences compared to the Romanian-built model and the Brazilian Duster will not arrive until 2011".

"We will not have the spare wheel protruding at the rear," he added, referring to a styling feature of higher riding, styling add-on adorned two wheel drive pseudo SUVs built locally by Fiat, Ford, Volkswagen and others.

He disclosed nothing about the second product. But local speculation suggests a Sandero-derived compact pickup.

Fernando Calmon