Brazilian engine manufacturer Tritec Motors ceased production last week, having produced the last engine for the Mini.

Tritec was established as a joint venture between Chrysler and BMW. It was set up at the end of the 1990s with an investment of $US484m to supply small petrol engines to both companies. However, demand from both companies has declined. Chrysler originally needed the engines for the PT Cruiser but soon after the start of production at Tritec, Chrysler was acquired by Daimler-Benz giving it access to small petrol engines from Mercedes.

BMW originally needed Tritec engines for the Mini but the second generation hatchback model uses petrol engines - developed in conjunction with PSA - from its own Hams Hall engine plant in the UK The first-generation convertible has continued using the Tritec motors but the end of production suggests an engine update is imminent.

In 2006 Tritec produced around 200,000 engines, according to Brazilian automotive industry analysts, Autodata. This was up on previous years thanks to new contracts with Chinese vehicle manufacturers. Chinese models fitted with Tritec engines have included the Chery A15 and the Lifan 520, according to Autodata.

However, the company no longer has any orders. It is continuing to try to win new orders with Chery, Lifan, Hainan and Chrysler, and there remains the possibility that the company could be sold. Last year it was reported that Russia's two largest vehicle manufacturers, GAZ and AvtoVAZ, have held discussions with the company's owners about acquiring the plant.

China's Lifan Group has also been reported as having an interest in acquiring the facility.

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