PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner said on Thursday that he expects to see increased vehicle demand in Brazil this year.
"We expect the Brazilian market to improve this year and for sales to grow," the chief executive officer said as he formally announced that the world's largest automaker was investing $240 million to expand a plant in southern Brazil, where it will produce a new model.
The investment aims to increase annual production at the Gravatai plant, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, to 210,000 cars from the current 120,000 by 2006, when the U.S. car manufacturer also hopes to launch its new model.
Some 80 percent of the new model cars produced at the plant will be destined for the Brazilian market, Wagoner said.
"GM's policy is to sell where we produce," he said.
GM sold 333,420 vehicles in 2003, 1.5 percent fewer than the previous year. It was the second-biggest seller in Brazil in 2003 after Italy's Fiat.
Earlier on Thursday Brazil's Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (Anfavea) said the industry had sold 107,400 cars, buses and trucks in January, 36 percent less than in December due to seasonal factors and price rises.