Friday, 30 September 2016

Micro Level Trends – Brazil's Automotive Sector – “Brazil 66”...Sixty Six Years of Economic Power Lifting (Part 4.2)

This portion of this weblog features the chronology of the veritable "home-grown", and so charts Brazil's domestic efforts at vehicles by Brazil for Brazil, with recognition of the increasing importance of foreign export for national earnings. 

3. Indigenous Development – Corporate (Mass)

Herein the previous reference to very obvious first-phase 'foreign adoption for indigenous adaption 'has been much superseded by much internal learning.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s a new crop of young Brasilian-born managers and engineers, overseen by foreign seniors, were starting to gain more autonomy from headquarters in Detroit, Wolfsburg, Turin and Milan. Increasingly pertinant and nuanced local market knowledge was gained, allowing for better aligned andimproved product. Decision-making had become better and faster.

Furthermore, stronger relations with a a communicative Brazilian government and so greater in-market confidence to develop long-term plans and ambitions.

This progressive mutually beneficial atmosphere was of specific aid to Volkswagen.
Having already put much of Brazil on wheels with the Type 1 'Fusca' and Type 2 'Microbus' sought to entrench itself further within the Brazilian consumer's mindset, since as new competition started to arrive in the form of FIAT (small car and low-cost leaders) and GM and Ford (both having to create a new series of small cars to fend-off their own small car invasion by the Germans and Japanese),. With indeed the Japanese seeking to convince Brazil to eradicate the 'ISI' import ban (Import Substitution Industry) so as to gain a lucrative export market.

Volkswagen do Brasil reacted by providing what could be termed as “proprietary cars” - born in and of Brazil, yet still very much in the hybridised mould of proven simple German mechanicals overlaid with a Brazilian body. These were the Brasilia, SP2 and Gol and would provide VW with market leadership for over the next two decades.

That said the 1970s would begin with Ford's attempt to sway the outcome of that decade.

The following provides a chronological 'role-call' of the car models that transformed Brazil's auto-sector' from backwater to eventual global instigator.

Ford Corsel:

Though VW would make the 1970s its own, Ford had gained a very useful foothold in 1968 when, having purchased the Brazilian interests of Willys-Overland with its Renault alliance, it started production of a small car model named the Corsel.

It was born alongside its Renault 12 sibling, with which it would share much of the BIW (body in white) understructure and so packaging, and initial engine, but would appear 18 months earlier than the French model.

Shown at the Sao Paulo show it became an instant sensation, with strong initial sales. However quality issues meant recalls and though handled well by dealers dented the cars and Ford's reputation amongst those seeking mid priced quality. The fact that the car gained an increasing premium price in its sector meant that sales numbers would always be capped. The pricing policy itself was designed to differentiate itself against more humble (VW) offerings, and was underpinned by the aspirational success of regional motorsport events.

But the fact was that it was designed in the guise of popular (and more comfortable) transport for the French who sought and could now afford a slightly more sophisticated higher priced vehicle, with its concomitant development costs.

But the majority of Brazilians still needed proven reliability at relative low cost, thus whilst the Corsel's bodystyle was progressed (with a 2-door sports-wagon like the same era Toyota Corolla) and became better engineered, because of it's own design brief origins, price-wise it was pitched quite high; so premium to the basic wants of many Brazilians.

VW Karmann TC :

The Karmann Ghia Coupe had been created from a JV agreement between the client Volkswagen, the specialist contract builder Karmann and the renowned styling house Carozzeria Ghia. Thus in 1955 the Type 14 was launched based on Type 1 mechanicals and thereafter went through generational change.

The first Karmann Ghia Coupe used butt-welding construction methods required greater labour content given its had-crafted processes and necessary panel fettling, thus it was rational that Brazil's lower manpower costs made it a natural 'additional capacity' production base beyond the Karmann facility in Germany, and a Brazilian contract manufacture facility was built to match the German set-up and likewise built the Type 14 for local demand and for additional export capacity.

Its successor, the 1961 Type 34 was designed upon the then new Type 3 base so as to better integrate with standard spot weld factory plant so VW could produce a greater proportion of the car in-house (both in Germany and Brazil) to gain economies of scale – especially regards overall CapEx spend - and likewise reduce the level of more costly tailored content in the car; now centred around secondary mechanical fit and dedicated trimming.

Type 34 then inadvertantly caused a problem for VW do Brasil and Karmann do Brasil, since it was based on a higher cost new platform and did not require as much labour content.

In answer the Brazilian division undertook what was then a daring venture by way of the Karmann TC project. Again born from Ghia styling and again in collaboration with Karmann;s local operation, the TC was to be based upon the cheaper Type 1 (Beetle) base and be primarily for Brazil and Latin America, with the potential for export sales to the USA, Europe and elsewhere.

It was decided that stylistically the car should match the latest leading European trends, and that meant the all new 'Touring' style body (akin to the BMW 2002 Touring hatchback) and continuation of the 2+2 seating package.

On paper the project looked good, but it had its failings.

Whilst the new hatchback configuration was indeed more practical, launch timing was unfortunate, affected by the USA's recession quickly impacting the wealthier Brazilian customer, and the fact that the car suffered from poor aesthetic cohesion, especially between front and rear, meant that it was not a successful seller in Brazil or indeed elsewhere.

Ultimately it sought to be perceived as more of a 'Jack of all Trades' instead of the Master of One, as the original Karmann Ghia had been stylistically. Thus failed in regards to its planning assumptions, insight into target customers, packaging proportions, thus inevitably its stylistic execution and launch timing.

VW Brasilia :

To many Latin and Central Americans, and to foreign tourists in Brazil, the VW Brasilia became the physical symbol of the growing and successful country and an expanding middle class. Introduced in 1973 it was named after the capital city, retaining Fusca reliability and yet styled as a contemporary VW product, the car became a populist icon.

It was based on the platform of the Type 1 so as to retain the lowest cost of production possible, yet heavily influenced in body-style and front 'face' by the later Type 3 and Type 4 vehicles, typically known in the guises of high selling 'Variant' (wagon/estate). Given the all too problematic internal space limitations of the Fusca, severely limiting its practicality, the new car was designed as internally large as possible, thus a wagon.

But to save costs and add appeal it, even though launched in 5-door guise, it would be primarily produced, marketed and sold as a 3-door vehicle so matching a coupe-like door arrangement to voluminous rear. And though it is believed that the launch marketing as a commercial utility vehicle hampered initial sales, it again was very probably done to highlight practicality and low price to all.

Vitally it was introduced at the same time as the 1973/4 Oil Crisis whilst imported American and European popular culture was embued with new era Futurism, and so a character of Fusca frugality and 'clean' modernist (read 'advanced') design was perfect. The visual of 'sporty practicality' had already been proven on the Type 3 Variant (its predecessor) but also seen on variants of far more performance orientated cars such as the Volvo P1800ES, the Jensen-Healey GT and the slightly later Lancia Beta HPE, marketed as 'sports-wagons' (and sometimes termed latter day 'shooting breaks').

The Brasilia then was designed as, and received as, the perfect hybridisation of old and trusted, new and exciting and critically the very practical. Resulting in over 1 million produced and sold.

VW SP2 :

The great success of the motor industry through the 1960s, the gain of increased local independence from corporation headquarters and swelling of headcount (planners, engineers, marketeers and administrators) meant that by the early 1970s the big auto-players had ever expanding plans to answer the apparent needs of a quickly maturing marketplace.

One such arena was sports-cars and so called 'personal cars', with the obvious influence being the array of European brands and vehicles and the massive North American impact of Corvette and Mustang.

As will be seen later in more detail, previously the licensed production of France's original Alpine (by Willys Overland) gave Brazil its notional first sports-car. This new segment creator was thereafter followed by the truly home-grown Puma, using simple production techniques and based on a VW Type 1 Beetle/Fusca rolling chassis and rear engine.

With the market success of the niche independent Puma, Volkswagen believed it had spotted a high potential segment, for both brand enhancement and if it got the business model correct, to make strong per unit margins. After all, Puma had to buy-in the chassis and engine at “cost-plus” pricing, bare the cost of transportation and absorb the large time and cost of labour-intensive fibre-glass body-building, itself ultimately poor in quality compared to a steel body.

VW could obviously produce “at cost” and deploy its substantial in-house capabilities.

The outcome was the SP1 and SP2 models, based on the Type 3 'Variant' with initially an enlarged capacity 1600cc engine in the former and 1700cc in the latter. The show-car was seen in 1971, well received, and launched proper in 1972. The SP1 was received as under-powered and so short-lived, thus soon replaced by the SP2 upgraded version.

The general quality of the car was (by typical affordable sportscar standards) excellent, and the styling, interior fit-out and features likewise above Puma. Stylistically it was 'on cue', with a more slanted dynamic corporate face and Porsche-like rear end providing overt sporting aesthetic overtones.

However the weight of the steel body, compared to lighter fibreglass, robbed the car of performance and so it was decisively beaten dynamically by the “lesser, garage-built” Puma. As such it became Brazil's version of a sporty (not sporting) personal car, promoting its quality, refinement and features. Production running from 1972 to 1976 and about 10,500 units made.

Even with the protection of the vehicle import ban from European and American competition, after the initial strong sales in years 1 and 2, sales numbers soon dropped, so perhaps only reached financial break-even regards project costs, primarily thanks to the already much already amortised Type 3 chassis.

Thus it appears that with full knowledge of the SP's lesser performance capabilities, the project was undertaken for strategic reasons to bolster the overall VW brand within Brazil. Adding excitement to the already engrained virtue of reliability.

Today given their relative rarity and cultural importance of a specific 'last of the good times' era, the SP1 and SP2 have become collectors cars.

VW Gol / Pareti :
Description of this very important Brazilian model Gol was previously provided.

However, the Pareti wagon/estate variant deserves attention.

In essence, with an expanding marketplace, VW's local product planning team decided that to broaden the product range the two critical USP features of Brasilia could now be split into two distinct vehicles: the Gol for entry level affordability (with comparatively reduced load-space), and the later higher positioned and priced Parati (with sizeable wagon bodystyle) with the introduction of the B2 platform based 'Gol family' line-up (the Mk2 Gol onwards)
Available in 5 and 3 door variants, the cheaper to produce and lower priced 3 door became most popular with continued (Brasilia) echoes of sporty functionality. The 3 door version allowed for the simultaneous engineering of a small pick-up truck version (or 'Ute') named Saveiro which itself became associated with the rise of the sole-trader merchant and trades-person, central figures in the the rise of society's 'lower middle'.

FIAT 147 :
During the 1950s and 1960s the geographic ambitions of the Agnelli dynasty were widespread, but primarily with the provision of licensing agreements to Soviet Bloc countries. As seen, Brazil had favoured Alfa Romeo for the national champion FNM in trucks and cars, thus FIAT first entered Brazil with tractors.

With so many early entrant auto-players, FIAT sensibly waited until 1973 to begin building its first plant further in Betim, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The first vehicle produced was the small 127 model – known locally as the 147, with a nine year lifespan between 1976 and 1985.

Initially only the standard (European) 3 door hatchback, the car was viewed as overtly small for Brazil, and not as robustly built as the more technically archaic VW range. Nonetheless as a modern small car (FWD and water cooled) it sold to the likes of teachers and clerks or, for those higher up, as a household's second car for wife and mother.

To overcome the product's size limitations and reach new target customers, four variants were introduce: the 'Panarama' 3-door wagon/estate in 1980 along with the 'City' pick-up and 'Fiorino' van, and the 'Oggi' 3-door sedan in 1982. Thus the 147 now represented a broad array of choice, the 'Oggi' specifically designed with a very large rear truck/boot to provide maximum functionality in a 3-box car.

Over the nine year span the model sold around 170k units, and was a pragmatic and cautious market entry approach by FIAT, with what appears the intention for FIAT Automoveis to be as self reliant as possible after start-up. FIAT Brazil was able to enjoy the cost-savings of a part amortized platform, yet with that gain and to seemingly self fund (and so delay) the locally apt Panarama, Oggi and City members of the model family.

FIAT Uno :
Launched in Europe in 1983, the vehicle started manufacture in Brazil in 1984 and would have a remarkable 30 year lifespan in Mk1 and Mk 2 guises.

It was penned by ItalDesign's Giugiaro with an even more extreme 'Euro-box' style (after the 1974 VW Golf and 1980 FIAT Panda), effectively miniaturising a previous larger (unproduced) MPV concept.

It was seen as both Euro-chic and offering strong practicality with generous load space within the wheelbase. As the new entry-level car FIAT recognised the similar buyer needs of S.European, E.European and S.American base-level buyers who wanted economy and space.

Vitally a broad net of inter-continental sales meant that the platform became much amortised in its Mk1 and Mk 2 guises. When production ceased in Italy in 1995, it continued it Poland for a few more years.

However, vitally for the financial strength of FIAT's LatAm cost-centres, the vehicle continued production into the 21st century. The per unit profitability enjoyed from 1995 onward allowed for a corporate front-end face-lift in 2004 which carried the car through until end of manufacture in 2013. The changes made were very pragmatic, such as retained but re-worked front fenders, and cosmetically unsympathetic to the purity of ItalDesign's original and even Mk 2, but helped to maintain buyer interest and so good margins; especially in the run-out Mille (economy) and Way (pseudo-urban-SUV) guises.

The near 30 year lifespan of Uno helped FIAT do Brasil substantially to underpin itself financially.

FIAT Premio :
Premio was based upon the new European Uno. Thus again FIAT Brazil would replay the 147 business model, of lower cost platform requiring higher cost local re-engineering for model proliferation.

In addition to the Europan hatchback 3 and 5 door Uno, that model expansion consisted of a 3-door sedan, 5-door sedan, and 3-door wagon. Thus the hatchback body or the 147 was not directly replaced so as to distance itself from the less popular old car and to raise the positional standing of the new model to enable greater
pricing power.

A van version was also built in Brazil, but not not sold domestically because the more profitable low production cost 147 variants had been stockpiled for ongoing sale by FIAT Automoveis.

Between 1985 and 1996 the Premio did much to re-strengthen FIAT's Brazilian (and Argentine) reputation, with various local engineering adaptations to ensure improved product robustness and so resale value – especially important during what were harsh economic times. It was the car that began FIAT's slow path to market leadership some 30 years later.

FIAT Palio / Siena :
The ambition of a 'world car' had been sought by the major auto-players since the mid 1960s, whereby a certain model (or models) could be sold internationally, primarily in the very different main markets of the North America, Europe (possibly Japan and Australia) and elsewhere.

The idea to designed an all-round engineering packaging (size, hardware, features) that would have broad appeal.

However the very different market mindsets of very differently evolved advanced regions (NA vs UK vs N. Europe vs S. Europe) – and the self-interests of a corporation's local engineering function - meant that even creating an acceptable all-round product for these 1st world regions, let alone further afield, would be far harder than initially imagined.

Ford was successful in integrating Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany, GM likewise, to harmonise previously different body-styles. It then later tried to merge Europe and USA with the Capri (alternatively badged Mercury), the FWD Mk3 Escort and Sierra, with the later European Mondeo enjoying a modicum of American success as Contour as some people sought a short-lived down-sizing trend from Taurus, whilst others were upsizing into SUVs. But these attempts were hardly overtly successful, and more tactical than truly globally strategic.

[NB Ironically the global popularity of premium German brands since the mid 1980s, from Wall St Yuppies to 3rd World 'Big Men', meant that these were the first to have gained the title, even though hardly relating to global mass-mobility].

Instead it was believed that a lower cost entry-level vehicle in the 1st world could be marketed in 2nd world regions as the mainstream car. However, segmented market dynamics by the mid 1970s meant that ant European entry-level car was typically small, and 2nd world regions required cheap but comparatively spacious passenger cars for utility.

Thus for the most part, up until the early 1990s, perhaps only the Model T, VW Beetle, 2CV(3CV), Renault 4 and FIAT 124 had been true 'world cars', their basic and cheap to produce engineering allowing for sale initially as cheap mass-mobility vehicles in the then quickly advancing 1st world, and thereafter their roles replayed again as standard robust transport in slower developing 2nd world countries, often via local licensed-production deals. Similarly, the title could be said to equate to certain larger vehicles which had their lifespans much extended, such as those 're-released' in the Middle East and North Africa: the Peugeot 404/504, the Rootes-Hillman Avenger and Peugeot 405.

However, because of the variety of vastly different market requirements even within the 1st and 2ns worlds, between the late 1970s through to the mid 1990s, the idea was deemed an unsolvable problem; and so advanced countries received constantly progressive vehicle technologies whilst developing countries used reliable old and vitally affordable solutions.

It took a new era of EM regional development from the early 1990s onward, and a re-definition of the term, for the 'world car' to be born.

FIAT was the first to succeed with the Palio and 'the world' would consist not of trying to mainstream-match 1st and 2nd world markets, but in the provision of overlap needs amongst the the much economically expanded 2nd world and a plethora of ambitious “newly emergent” nations. The BRICS and many others (economically BRICS interconnected) providing massive new potential.

The previously largely unsuccessful commercial effort of trying to force a small 'Euro-box' archetype into an emergent nation could be reversed, and now a new low-cost 2nd world car with good economies of scale could be selectively introduced into advanced regions.

Thus Palio was not designed from a European base platform but created from the ground-up as a dedicated EM-suited platform, modules (major sub-assemblies) and systems. However, to save costs elements of the previous Uno were selectively used and adapted.

The worldwide EM production sites would (in phased introduction) be: Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Poland, China, India, Morocco, S. Africa, Venezuela, USSR.

Launched at the same time as the European Brava and Bravo, it carried the similar corporate styling but with less overall curvaceousness, so as to provide slightly more internal space and to still appear functional and capable. In Brazil it re-introduced the hatchback variant (itself back in vogue with positive Euro-style overtones), along with 5-door sedan (Albea), 5-door wagon (Weekend) and pick-up 'Ute' (Strada). The model went through 4 so called generations (actually low change facelifts) to maintain popularity, Crucially the 2nd and 3rd generations expanded the market attractiveness enormously, moving variants both up and down the pricing spectrum.

The 2nd cycle saw the introduction of the 'Adventure' sub-brand in 2001 on high-line versions of wagon (Weekend) and pick-up 'Ute' (Strada), with an SUV look (raised ride heights, LSD (limited slip differential) and off-road/SUV inspired 'bolt-on' visual enhancements.

The 3rd cycle gave the simpler, fuel efficient small engined 'Mille Fire' so as to compete more effectively with the entry level VW Gol, doing so very effectively. And the 'Adventure' wagon was provided with fully fledged (tho usefully part-time) 4WD to live up to its image.

If the previous Premio model had laid strong foundations for FIAT in Brazil, then the Palio built strong defensive walls for the brand.

The Brazilian business model was replicated by FIAT around the globe in then emerging EM nations, and thus capturing the hearts and minds of many.

FIAT Novo Uno :
Introduced in 2010 the new car would have much to live up to regards space and economy.given the 27 year lifespan of the previous Uno. The prime difference was that unlike Uno, the Novo Uno would be a truly nationalistic vehicle, designed by Brazilians for Brazilians, assisted by the central styling studio in Turin, Italy.

FIAT well recognised that to become a distinctive market-leader in a prime EM region set for continued future long-term growth, it would have to create an icon product. This became even more apparent after the 2008 financial crisis which hit FIAT's olde-world European markets so hard.

The Novo (new) Uno is based on the proven and much amortised Palio platform and has the expanded basic boxy proportions of the smaller European current Panda.

However, a more rounded yet bluff nose (originally with 3 nostrils), a high hood line, deep body-sides, a visually stronger rear 'C' pillar (excluding glass), defined wheel arches and relatively high suspension settings makes the car appear very chunky and so in basic form tends to overtones of SUV and Cross-Over.

Thus necessarily FIAT followed the formula for spaciousness, economy and robustness, with the necessary need to have a wide span of well entrenched character types, fuel-sipping to adventuristic to sporting; the golden triangle of Brazilian needs and desires.

That triangle now expanded to a diamond with the increasing inclusion of 'City' (ie urban) orientated assist devices and so character; such as the on-demand assisted-steering for tight parking included on all 2017 models. The diamond pattern also used on the gear selection interface on some variants, so as to provide a modern touch-type selection regime over the conventional lever, so freeing-up internal packaging and adding more space.

Volkswagen Fox:
A description of this much exported city car (and 'world car') already previously provided.

The Brazilian 'Utes'...

As previously mentioned, Australia had been the renowned home of the 'Ute' for 80 years. However with the growth in popularity of 2WD and 4WD double-cab pick-up trucks and the plummeting of large car (Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore) sales over the last decade (upon which the home-grown Utes are based) has come the inevitable decision to end Ute manufacture.

Brazil has been manufacturing compact car derived Utes since the mid 1980s and whilst smaller than Australian counterparts and so less load capable have nonetheless demonstrated themselves as an automotive cultural icon across Brazil, South and Central America and other EM regions.

Thus Brazil has now by default become the cultural homeland of this vehicle.

Interestingly, this vehicle genre has expanded in functionality and cosmetics, as the once bare-bones Ute (still the prime seller) now also has siblings with SUV stance and styling accoutrements, and now available as a four-door double cab.

[NB However, it should be recognised that the small FWD layout and large RWD layout have variously different traction advantages and disadvantages depending upon load amount and road surface conditions, hence the small Ute – destined for “light commercial” - cannot compete directly with the larger pick-up truck].

Nonetheless, as with strong profit margins gained from vans, these car-based variants typically offer good per unit profitability.

Volkswagen Saveiro:
Whilst the FIAT 147 was the first little ute proper, with the Fiorino City as sucessor, both sales numbers were comparatively low. Hence the early arrival and long life-span of the VW Saveiro has deemed it popularity Brazil's first domestic Ute.

It was initially derived from the Perati wagon/estate in the mid 1980s, thereafter a standard body offering on each Gol generation ever since. To add, indeed re-aprropriate, local identity, VW dealers also offered an extended cab version which included a large rear quarter window – the 'Brazilian window' - that had become fashionable by versions of the bigger Ford F-100/150 pick-up.

As with its Gol parent, it has been the best selling Ute in Brazil because of its segment origination and ongoing leadership.

Today the Mk1 Saveiro has become a sub-culture classic, with young men and women creating their own tribalistic traits by re-inventing a merged following of 'beach-truck' trends via the Latino USA West Coast trends for customised and 'dropped' (suspension lowered) mini-trucks, the German 'Nurbergring' influence regards performance and the vibrant decals and stickers of the Australian 1970s Holden Sandman espousing beach culture.

[NB As regards Brazilian auto-culture, the vehicle crash rehabilitation story of a young man named Vinicius Sudan – himself for a period wheelchair-bound – illustrates the strength of Brazilian family and friendship. London, England salutes you all. To all in this tribe, please remember the old 1930s racing phrase “to win you have to finish...and...dead (wo)men don't win races”. So drive like Juan Manuel Fangio who died an old man, and Ayrton Senna who never took overt risks, and remember that you cannot 'drive around' unsafe mechanicals, so know your car inside-out].

FIAT Strada
This light ute first appeared in tandem with the Palio in 1996, itself a direct derivative (the Strada nameplate previously used on the European Ritmo).

Given the much improved strength of the FIAT brand by the mid '90s with much improved robustness and reliability, and the previous existence of 147 and Fiorino City, it proved an immediate hit as a new alternative to the VW Saveiro.

Importantly, like Palio, it was well publicised as Brazilian designed for Brazil.

The GVW payload was much improved over its predecessor models and its generally strengthened platform allowed for greater torsional stresses as experienced on pot-holed suburban and rural dirt tracks, so reduced probability of 'body-twist' and subsequent on-road 'crabbing' which would undermine resale values.

The 2001 Mk 2 made an extended cab version available and in 2002 the Strada Adventure series (parallel to the Weekend passenger wagon) to provide a trendy off-road aesthetic. That ute version was given the many of the same features as the car in 2004, so creating a parallel between the two variants and so prompting the idea of a leisure truck for the private, non-commercial, market.

Made in Brazil and South Africa for regional markets, the ute was also exported for some years from 2004 to selective Eastern European countries with Euro4 standards.

The 2014 model year saw major facelift with for the first time the introduction of a double-cab using the novel 'clap-hand' door arrangement - last seen in the late 1950s on the Brazilian only Ford F-100 special - with FIAT using this to provide functionality and to recapture the spirit of the yesteryear Brazilian own spirit.

Presently the ute is available in four body styles and three trim packages.

FIAT Toro:
A recent introduction has been the larger Ute-cum-Truck the Toro. Trying to creating a domestic and export niche of its own against the Japanese (Toyota HiLux etc) and the ever impending Chinese imports).

[NB though China-made trucks and cars themselves now being undermined by new government policy on required higher product standards...information to be relayed in later web instalments].

Based on FIAT's 'Small-Wide' platform (itself designed to bridge US and RoW packaging needs), the vehicle is seen as an off-shoot of the Jeep Renegade, and is obviously smaller than the mid-size US pick-up truck class (eg Ford Ranger). Offering car-like ride, comfort and features, the intention is to carve out a large profitable slice of the market for itself as the sole offering as a 'Premium Ute', with useful features such as extendible rear bed space via open 'barn' doors with cargo net and additional rear lighting.

[NB it appears likely that this model will be badge-engineered as a Jeep to assist Marchionne's global Jeep ambition across AM and EM markets, as increasing global product harmonisation (thanks to eco-down-sizing) comes into greater existence].

Summary -
Previously in 4.1 we saw how Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s had sought to make foreign adopted vehicles its own through body-style adaption, as with the Ford F-100 and the stillborn VW Fusca/Beetle wagon. Thereafter into the 1970s the greater hybridised efforts which mated drivetrain to body type, best exemplified with the first generation Gol and Parati. Whilst the 1990s and 2000s saw Brazilian industry instigate a policy of longer lived product lifecycles, such as GM's Celta, using the eponymous corporate facelift to refresh, and create something unique to the idiosyncratic local marketplace.

Here in 4.2 examples of corporate dedication to Brazil (and the broader LatAm region) demonstrated how the auto-industry was able to operate as a positive economic feedback loop into broader society, becoming a central part of Brazilian culture as home-grown capabilities allowed for important sector enrichment across the value chain. This especially important from the mid 1970s onward when once again Brazil became politically and so socio-economically 'inward'.

The cars that resulted from that increasingly independent industrial adolescence were the Ford Corsel, the Karmann TC, the iconic VW Brasilia, the SP2, the first VW Gol, the FIAT 147, FIAT Uno and FIAT Premio.

Industrial adulthood was represented by the later generations of VW Gol, itself far more strategically integrated with the component sets of VW's global manufacturing footprint and the globally ambitious FIAT Palio introduced in the mid 1990s which through revision realised the ideology of the 'world-car' by condensing global EM demand. If Palio was for the world, then Novo Uno was envisioned as (at least in Mk 1 form) uniquely Brazilian; showcasing the strength of capabilities across the nation's auto-sector, from initial design concept to engineering development to manufacturing improvement to retailing to (in facelift) increasing user convenience through electronic interfaces and aids.

And as seen, though previously over-shadowed in cultural terms by Australia, Brazil has become the new national homeland of the car-derived utility pick-up, the 'Ute'. A vital vehicle to inter-personal and small business trade within villages, towns and cities and so across regions and for overall national economic development.

Just as the Palio became a prime force as a global EM car amongst a new middle-class, it begs the question as to whether similarly the Brazilian designed Saveiro and Strada utes will serve the remote trading poor of upcoming “Pioneer Nations” both when new and used, just as Datsun-Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Hyundai have.

Part of that answer will lay in governmental policy-making as Brazil seeks to expand its own influence amongst the plethora of remaining EM nations.

The following section of this weblog looks to see how, along with local entrepreneurs, past policy sought to orchestrate and build its own distinctly nationalistic portion of the indigenous auto-sector.