The presence of Dan Akerson, General Motors' CEO, Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, Takanobu Ito, Honda's CEO and President, and Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover's CEO, shows how international the 2012 Sao Paulo auto show has become. Brazil has always been a key market for many OEMs – for example, it is the second main market for Chevrolet and Renault – but it has been closed, with many products only offered in the country and in neighboring Argentina.
However, it was different this year. Volkswagen showed the two-door version of the Gol, Brazil's best seller for almost three decades. But the German OEM also selected Sao Paulo to reveal the Taigun, the concept of its new compact crossover, to be priced below the Tiguan. If the Gol is a successful model in Latin America, the company is hoping that the Taigun will conquer customers worldwide.
Another global introduction was the Nissan Extrem, designed in San Diego, California. Very likely to be produced in the factory that Nissan is building in Brazil, it looks like a coupe version of the Juke. Nissan also confirmed that the Altima will be offered in Latin America's largest country for the first time.
In its efforts to become a true global company, Ford introduced the facelift of the Fiesta sedan in Brazil, just weeks after the hatchback version was shown at the Paris auto show. For the first time in Brazil, the new Fusion and the new Focus (only in its sedan version, although both sedan and hatchback will be produced in Argentina and exported to Brazil) were at the convention center as well.
By the way, many of the vehicles launched in Paris were in Sao Paulo. That was the case of the Jaguar F-Type, the Audi A3 Sportsback, the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and the Mini Paceman. It shows that OEMs are acting faster in places outside of Europe where sales are not free falling.
On the other hand, some OEMs introduced models solely for the Brazilian market. Instead of creating a true crossover – Polk initially forecasted a potential of more than 16,000 units annually – Hyundai's HB20X is the hatchback HB20 with an off-road look, as Volkswagen did with the Fox/CrossFox and Renault did with the Sandero/Stepway. With a complicated sales structure including a dealer network for imported vehicles and another one for the HB20, and not a true crossover, Hyundai is taking the risk to run away from sales in Brazil.
There were also OEMs that announced plans to produce in Brazil – BMW finally confirmed a factory for the X1, 1-Series and 3-Series – and those that identified the models which will be produced in the country. Chery, which is building a plant in Brazil, announced that the first model to be made there is the Celer, followed by a new generation of the QQ and the SUV based on the TX concept car.
Open to the public until November 4, the Sao Paulo auto show is not only the main show in Latin America, but is becoming an important show in the world.
Posted by Augusto Amorim, Lead Analyst – South America Forecasting, Polk (10.26.2012)