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10 automotive facts you may not know about Brazil

By David Bonnici, 06 Aug 2016 Car Style

Volkswagen Kombi

The 2016 Olympics host nation is best known for great beaches, rainforests, footballers with one-word names and scantily clad samba dancers, but it also has a rich automotive heritage.

BRAZIL HAS AN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY THAT RESEMBLES DETROIT’S GOLDEN DAYS

Brazil is the world’s eighth biggest car maker and churned out two million cars and 410,000 commercial vehicles in 2015 for local and export markets. Manufacturers include Audi, Chery, Citroen/Peugeot, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jac Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan/Renault, Toyota, Volkswagen and Uruguayan carmaker Effa.   

Fiat Manufacturing in Brazil

CHEVROLET IS THE MOST POPULAR CAR BRAND IN BRAZIL

Chevy has toppled Fiat as the country’s most popular brand this year, with 16.6 per cent market share in the first six months. Both brands have large manufacturing bases in the country. Fiat ruled supreme until last year but has since dropped from 18.6 percent market share to 15.1 percent. The Chevrolet Onix is now the biggest selling car in Brazil.

Chevrolet Onix

THE BRAZILIAN NEW-CAR MARKET IS TANKING

Brazil’s economic boom of the early 2000s turned into a bubble that well and truly burst as the century entered its teens. New-car sales have dropped a quarter in the first half of 2016 to 951,206 – the first time half-yearly sales have dropped below a million since 2007.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO INDIGENOUS CARMAKERS LEFT IN BRAZIL

Troller and Tecnologia Automotiva Catarinense (TAC) both make rugged SUVs. Troller (which is the Portugese word for Troll) is now owned by Ford and makes a range of vehicles which it exports around South America including the Troller T4 3.0 Turbodiesel. TAC is a much smaller company and produces one vehicle, the TAC Stark.

Troller

VOLKSWAGEN MAKES CARS UNIQUE TO BRAZIL

A bit like Holden and Ford here, VW went on a local tangent in Brazil to suit South American needs. Volkswagen does Brasil-made cars you won’t see in European showrooms including the big-selling Volkswagen Golf-like Gol hatchback, and sedan and ute versions called the Voyage and Saveiro. Discontinued models include a sports car called the SP2, which was a latter-day version of the legendary Karmann Ghia – also built in big numbers in Brazil.

Volkswagen Gol Brazil

VOLKSWAGEN DO BRAZIL-BUILT KOMBI VANS UNTIL 2013

VW stopped making the Volkswagen Kombi in Europe in 1979 but construction of the venerable vans and mini buses continued in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. By 1997 they were only being built in Brazil, and only stopped 16 years later because of new safety requirements mandating at least two airbags and anti-lock brakes, which made building them no longer viable. The popularity of old Kombis has spawned an export trade in recent Brazilian models.

Volkswagen Kombi

BRAZIL LOVES BIOETHANOL

Brazil is the world's second largest producer of ethanol fuel after the US. In 2014 it produced 23.4 billion litres – about a quarter of the world's total ethanol used as fuel.

AUSTRALIA SOLD COMMODORES TO BRAZIL

Holden exported left-hand-drive Commodores to Brazil between 1992 and 1998 and re-entered the market in 2010 with a bioethanol-fuelled Holden VE Commodore. Chevrolet recruited legendary Brazilian F1 and Indy racing car champion Emerson Fittipaldi to launch the initial batch of 600 VEs branded as the "Chevrolet Omega Fittipaldi Specials".

Commodore in Brazil

THERE HAVE BEEN 31 BRAZILIAN FORMULA 1 RACING DRIVERS

Brazil has produced some of the greatest racing drivers, including former world champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and the great Ayrton Senna. Notable drivers from the other 28 include Rubens Barrichello and current drivers Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr.

Ayrton Senna Imola

BRAZIL HAS ITS OWN V8 RACING SERIES

Brazil has a strong touring car history and racing championship called Stock Car Brasil, or Stock Car V8s, which is currently a two-horse race between cars loosely based on Chevy Cruzes and Peugeot 408s. The series attracts big names in South American motorsport including former F1 drivers such as the aforementioned Rubens Barrichello. Our own Mark Winterbottom co-drove in the opening round of the 2015 series and scored a podium finish with Marcos Gomes for the high-ranking Voxx Racing team.

Stock Cars in Brazil