By on October 25, 2012

Brazil is now the world’s fourth largest market. With sales of almost 4 million cars, the magical 5 million mark is not a mirage anymore. Accordingly, São Paulo, Latin America’s second largest city and the economic hub of the country, holds the grandest of the region’s trade shows. Known as the Salão do Automóvel de São Paulo, the fair expects to attract over 750 thousand visitors.

Marking its importance, everybody’s here. From VW’s Martin Winterkorn, to GM’s Dan Akerson and Ford’s Tim Foley, not to mention assorted honchos with names difficult to spell from a host of Asian makers, everybody wants a piece of the bootylicious Brazilian pie. I can’t remember another Saloon in which more stellar members of the rarefied pinnacles of the worldwide car industry were present and making themselves so accessible to the press.

Let’s take a walk through the Salão and see the highlights according to this auto scribe’s humble point of view.

First off, Honda. The big news is that Acura will finally be making the rounds. In 2015 that is. To whet Brazilian appetites, the Japanese maker is showing off the NSX supercar concept. Brazilians are also getting their first gander at the ILX and RDX.

Honda proper is showing their version of the peculiar Brazilian sub-genre known as the aventureiro. Invented by Fiat, it’s nothing more than a visual package to give a regular car some of the cues of an SUV. Honda saw fit to fit its Fit with the treatment. Called the Twist, Honda’s take is maybe too tame for Brazilian tastes. At the show, Honda for some reason thought it appropriate to say that in 2014, the Civic will have a 2.0 engine as an option.

Over to Toyota. The world’s largest car maker decided to tease Brazilian with the best they have to offer elsewhere. They’re showing the 86, the Prius and two concepts: NS4 and Iiimo (with two ii), which they describe as the first tablet car. I’m sorry, but I don’t care. The 86 comes with a Toyota badge, the Prius is promised to be on sale for R$120,000 ($60,000 – look at what protectionism can do for you!). After wowing Brazilians with such potential, the reality sets in as they’re showing what they really sell us – the Etios.

Lexus has a big stand and is showing many cars and concepts. This time, they promise they’re here for real and are ready for the uphill battle against the über Germans. For sale there will be the ES and one, yes one, unit of the LFA. This one unit can be yours for two point nine million reais (one point forty-five million greenbacks)! The price was so big I saw it fitting to spell it out.

Over at Fiat, with not much to show, they decided to bring over the sisters to lend them some prestige and visits. They’re showing the Ferrari 458 and Maserati Gran Cabrio.

Of their own, they show two new versions of the 500, the Cabrio and Gucci versions and the rest of their usual line-up. Nonetheless, a visit to them is worth it, if not for the Ferrari, then for the booth babes. Fiat doesn’t disappoint here and I call them best in show!

On to the French. Renault is having an important year and is making an important launch. They show the face-lifted (in Brazil by Renault’s dedicated design center in São Paulo) Clio. Still the second generation, they get a face in line with their European offerings.

A conceptual Duster, the Juke-inspired Captur and an electric Twizy and Fluence are there to ignite imaginations. Not for us though. What really called my attention at Renault was a Willys Interlagos. This brand-new car is a replica of the first Brazilian sports car. Built by Willys in Brazil from 1961 on, it was done so under license from Renault as it used an Alpine as its base.

We well know that PSA is in trouble in Europe. Looking for some sales from their Brazilian subsidiary, Peugeot is showing the 208. It is aimed at the likes of Punto and Polo, and most comments have been very positive. Citroën’s stand however, is the real attraction. They show off the DS line and their recently launched models. For the first time in South America, Citroën’s all electric, sports car, the Survolt is on display.

To end our European tour, VW. The Germans are showing off all the creativity they can muster using the Up! as a basis. As for concepts, there is the water-proof Buggy Up!, the GT Up!, and the Taigun that forgoes the Up! in its name.

Of course, the regular version of the Up! is there, albeit in Euro-guise. Let’s hope Brazilians are not too disappointed when our simplified version comes out. Also interesting, VW displays its Cross Coupe which can be summed up as VW’s take on BMW’s X6.

The São Paulo show is a big one for the Americans. GM is showing off its new line. The traditional  dependence of GM do Brasil on Opel is in history’s dustbin. Now, GM do Brasil is firmly tied to Daewoo. Regardless of the controversial styling, the cars are gaining lots of conquest sales. More importantly, GM also shows the Onix. This supermini is already in production and differently from the other Daewoo-based cars was developed largely in Brazil (how much I can’t say, but this always an excellent way to gain points with patriotic Brazilians). GM suits are talking of taking on the Gol. Like with the HB20, the Gol as an inspiration is evident in the car’s design. Depending on price (not announced), the car could become a contender for the title of most sold car in Brazil. [Let's just hope the Onix never makes it to germany. It means "oh,  nothing" ion German - B] 

Ford is showing its new stuff, too. The highlight is the new Ford Fiesta. I don’t know if they consulted with Aston Martin, but the car’s fascia is now very British.

Also present and sporting the new family face are the Fusion and the EcoSport. Now in 4WD, the EcoSport is a darling of Brazilian consumers. The Fusion is causing a lot of shock. The first version to arrive boasts a price tag of R$113,00 ($56,500). Isn’t protectionism grand?

Showing that Brazilian engineering isn’t dead, Nissan of all people is showing the Extrem concept. Designed by Nissan’s San Diego, California office, Nissan swears the mechanical bits (1.6 turbo – 1.6 by Renault, turbo by Nissan) were developed in Brazil and shows Nissan’s love for my country (hahaha!). The car could turn into a future mini-SUV/CUV dedicated to fight market darlings EcoSport and Duster and future darlings Taigun and a future Onix-based Chevrolet product.

Finally, Hyundai. The great attraction is the HB20. Developed for Brazil, adaptation has happened fast. So much so that the Koreans are showing they have Brazil down pat and already have an aventureiro dubbed HB20X. Following the script more closely than the Fit Twist, the car sports a jacked up suspension, wider tires, but misses that much loved affectation, the tire mounted out back. Why, oh why, Hyundai? Also, a brand-new, imported i30 and Santa Fe.

Of course, others are here, too. BMW, Mercedes, Kia, the Chinese. The Chinese however are mostly speculation. The Mercedes and BMWs have all been seen elsewhere. Nothing new called my attention at Kia.

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

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34 Comments on “Marcelo’s Multi-Picture Report From The São Paulo Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    4 million cars sold in a year? With such high price? Wow, the economy in Brazil must be very healthy indeed! How’s the traffic over there? :)

    • 0 avatar

      Bad, very bad Mr Whopee. Now that the Olympics and World Cup are coming, there have been some investments in urban mobility. The pols have to stop robbing a little and investment more. They have to get through their thick skulls that the car is not going away. São Paulo, Rio and others have almost reached Euro car-people proportions. We need more infrastructure. If not the lack of education, productivity, that is what will do us in.

      As to the Salão de SP, I find it quite ironic that the shows organizers make it very difficult for the common man to get there and park his car. All parking is reserved for pols, press and suits. Of course, they want to get the rest of us out of their way.

      Message to them: Ain’t happening!

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    I want more Brazilian booth babes.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    This is indeed confusing. Average wages over there are under $20K/year. How can people afford to buy 5M cars? I mean if your average milquetoast cars are in $50-60K range, how’s this possible?

    • 0 avatar

      See Magnusmaster below for part of the answer.

      The other part of the answer is that relatively few people buy brand-new cars. I think it’s not more than 20% of the adult population can do it. Witness how expensive secondhand cars are. I just bought a 2005 Ford Ka. I paid almost 7000 dollars for it. How much would a car like that go for in Europe or America?

      Another reason is that interest rates for brand-new cars hover around 1% a month. For used car it can get as high as 3%. A month. So it makes sense to take out that 5 yr loan and just buy brand-new.

      Finally 50% of the market is Gol, Uno, Palio, Celta, Fiesta, Ka, Classic. almost 25% more is Cobalt, Fox, Sandero, Logan, new Palio.
      The Fusions and what not mentioned in article would amount to 10% at most. So the average price of a brand-new car is somewhere below 30k reais (15000 dollars). That’s why the Up for example is so important. It should cost from 23 to 27k. Soon, Hyundai will have a car under 30k. As does Nissan (March).

      See my previous article (VW Under Attack) where I discuss the cars people really buy. Here I was talking of a Car Show. This is just for dreaming.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    Brazilians take loans, pay the car in monthly payments for up to 5 years, or just save for a long time. Keep in mind most people buy the absolute cheapest cars they can find (that is, the garbage, like the “new” Clio), since they can barely afford them. It’s the proliferation of garbage cars for third-world countries that’s basically caused the growth of car sales in Brazil and Argentina.

    • 0 avatar

      You know Magnusmaster, I was watching some old Top Gear episodes on youtube last night. Old as in episodes from 89-93. It was then that it hit me. We are now what England was in 1990!

      You see, there was a comparo between a Mini (the original) and a Cincuecento (the old, tall and boxy one) from 91 (?). In it he cars had engines at around 1.0, everything was optional, no airbags, abs, ebd. They started at around 7k pounds and went up to 10 or 11 with AC and power windows. Went from 0 to 100 in 16 or more seconds.

      That’s our lot my friend. In Argentina, it’s better. You have more choices, car are cheaper, come with ISOFIX, airbags…Not excusing anything really, but that’s the way it just is.

      • 0 avatar
        Magnusmaster

        It’s not that different in Argentina. Cars aren’t much cheaper and with our current inflation we’ll soon catch up to Brazilian prices. Cars with ISOFIX are extremely rare, only imports have them, just like in Brazil, and lately new models in Brazil have airbags as standard equipment while in Argentina they are optional (Fiat is doing this lately). And Brazil has far more variety than Argentina, you just don’t see it since Brazilians still can’t afford imports at all. Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Suzuki build cars there and have far more models available and there are a lot of Chinese brands there.

        BTW, Argentina and Brazil are about 10-20 years behind Europe, and that won’t change anytime soon. In Europe ESP will be mandatory in 2014, here in South America nobody has even heard of it and it’s even more of a luxury than airbags. I guess it won’t be until 2024 that ESP will be mandatory here. Who knows what kind of alien technology Europe will get by then…

      • 0 avatar

        @Magnusmaster, hi!

        Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought I’d read (in Brazilian press) that ISOFIX was slowly proliferating in Brazilian cars, as the feature was mandatory for cars sold in Argentina. Also, somehow I also thoguht airbagas were mandatory in Argentina.

        Now, airbags (though abs is more rare in spite of the same rule applying) is common on launches just because by 2014 all brand new cars sold in Brazil must come with them and abs. It’s not due to some kindness from makers or sudden market demand, it’s just that it’s cheaper to engineer the cars this way than to retrofit the equipment for cars that were not projected with them. See what will happen to Mille (original Uno) and Kombi. The Kombi will surely die and Fiat is still trying to find an econoimcal solution for it.

        ESP? ESP? What newfangled technology is that??

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Brazil is going to be the next China. I heard that Apple is planning to move IPad production over to Brazil.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    Thanks for the report, Marcelo. Is GM retiring Corsa Classic, Celta, Prisma and Corsa with the introduction of the Onix?

    I can’t believe Renault is still selling the old Clio! (Though I remember it performing superbly with the 1.6 16V engine)

    What do you think of the Hyundai HB20? Did you get a chance to test drive one yet?

    • 0 avatar

      oi Autobraz!

      Haven’t driven HB20 yet. Seems most compare to Gol. Except for engine note as it can’t hide its 3 cylinders. Interior is a little disappointing. From pics looked better.

      Clio only available with 1.0 now. Interior is new, front too. Back has been changed somewhat. Guess its enough from 24 to 28k reais.

      Cobalt already killed Corsa. Celta et al should be gone soon (thank God). Depends of course on Onix pricing and Celta, Classic sales. But Onix will have a version to substitute each one. Was impressed though as pricing should start at about 27k (of course pelado).

      Thanks for reading!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Needs more Strada and Saveiro.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Thanks, Marcelo! What was your favorite (vehicular) model at the show?

    • 0 avatar

      Too many to pick from.

      Ford cars and girls were very impressive.

      Loved the 500 Cabrio.

      Ferrari is Ferrari.

      HB20 was intriguing and seems well put together. Let’s see real versions.

      NSX incredible!

      Chevy onix was very impressive for what’s supposed to be Chevy’s entry level in Brazil. Will make a killing. The most important car in the Salão.

      Up! I have to wait the Brazilian version. When they simplify a car for Brazil, they really simplify it! I loved the Buggy Up! for its playfulness. Almost not German (snark!).

      For me those were the highlights

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    > Honda for some reason thought it appropriate to say that in 2014, the Civic will have a 2.0 engine as an option

    Makes sense. It fits in with the timeline for the Earthdreams 2.0 DI engine. Civics in other parts of the world have gotten R18/R20 options before.

    • 0 avatar

      Why 2 yrs ahead of time. Keep away some cusomers waiting for bigger engine? The 2.0 existed here before. Killed off due to poor sales. Maybe like you say it will be because of new engine. Or maybe (likely) they’ll start new engine elsewhere and ship old tooling to make old engine here. Let’s see.

  • avatar
    Manic

    Very high taxes on cars, how are these calculated, simply linearly cars’ import value x say 2,5 = end-user price or are these based on cm3, CO2, hp/kw or cars’ length etc. factor? Are there some ummm…better buys and/or tax dodger versions?
    Like Ferrari 208 in Italy was until they changed the tax law.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Manic,

      Taxes are based on engine size, place of production, ‘nationalization’ of components, transferrence of technology, investment on ‘Brazilian’ technology creation. Those are the highlights.

      Then you have the yearly state road taxes, registration fees, license plate fees.

      There are no better buys. However, with the new rules relating to tech transferrence, tech development etc., there will be space for some to cheat. Like for example back in the 90s when the maker then known as Asia took a handful of money and ran. Later it was absorbed by Kia and Kia was taken over by Hyundai. The BRazilian guv is still suing Hyundai over the mess. Hyundai alleges it doesn’t have anything to do with case.

  • avatar
    JimothyLite

    Marcelo, you just can’t write “everybody wants a piece of the bootylicious Brazilian pie” and put in a picture like that. You just can’t. Just kidding. I got a kick out of it.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I see you found the pics of my xwife. My new wife looks twice as good..lol


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