Carlos Ghosn's main objective during his latest visit to Brazil was to personally announce two long-awaited models, one each from Renault and Nissan, though he also said a sub-US$10,000 (pretax) car was a possibility with help from India.

The Sandero Stepway sold here as a Renault (it has Dacia origins), seeks to follow the new wave of the 'adventure look' created by Fiat.

It follows the same ride height hike and extravagant exterior décor formula already seen on the Fiat Palio Weekend and VW CrossFox.

Renault's São Paulo Design Centre said the Stepway was developed for South American markets and nothing like it is planned for the European Dacia Sandero line.

A sixth model due under Renault's Commitment 2009 plan, destined for the Cordoba, Argentina, plant, is still missing but Ghosn decided not to comment about that.

The first five - Mégane II saloon and estate, Logan, Sandero and Sandero Stepway - are all Brazilian-made.

Local betting is on the new Clio II-based Symbol/Thalia saloon unveiled this week at the Moscow motor show. This compact saloon is a logical successor for the current Clio sedan built only in Argentina. Certainly, yesterday's official announcement did not mention South America as a destination for the Turkish-built versions.

The five-seat Livina and the seven-seat Grand Livina are the first Nissan light passenger vehicles to be built in Brazil (from mid-2009), alongside the new Frontier pickup, currently imported from Thailand. The X-Terra SUV and previous Frontier have just been phased out.

The Livina is a compact one-box model on the alliance's B0 architecture (Logan/Sandero) and was made first in China in 2007, then in Indonesia, Taiwan and South Africa.

Ghosn admitted for the first time that a model priced under US$10,000 (before taxes) could be launched, based on what is under development with Indian automaker Bajaj Auto.

"Not similar, for regulations and customer demand are different. Everybody wants to buy a new car. Today, the most affordable Brazilian car, albeit outdated, already costs $10,000 before taxes", he said.

The executive said automakers must be ready for a world car fleet five times larger than now. He noted that, according to the International Monetary Fund, there will be 3bn cars on the road by 2050 and nearly all this growth will take place in emerging markets, especially in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

In the short term, he sees annual growth in China falling to 10% and expects model mix to change following recent petrol price hikes.

However, nothing is likely to change in oil-rich Russia.

He expects sales in Brazil to grow slightly above 10% in 2009 and Renault to consolidate as the fifth best-selling brand here.

Fernando Calmon