Fiat has hired 300 additional workers for its plant in Betim, in response to the high volume of overtime that has been necessary in recent months, according to local industry journal Autodata.

Some 60% of the new employees will work in the press shop and the remaining 40% in the paintshop.

The new hirings are in addition to 300 new jobs created earlier this year. One hundred of these were in engineering and 200 in assembly.

Further new jobs are expected to be created in future months as production at the plant continues to increase.

Fiat is currently the market leader and in July held 24.9% of the market. Domestic sales in the first seven months of 2006 totalled 242,000 units, up 7.7% compared to a year earlier. Production in the same period was up 7.8% to 315,900 units.

Exports were down very slightly, but not as much as could be expected given the appreciation of the Real. Earlier this year, Fiat was expecting a reduction in export from 100,000 in 2005 to 70,000 in 2006.