"Brazil has long been considered a country of the future, but today proves it's very much a country of the present." When Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the VW Group, announces at Volkswagen’s preview evening that an emerging economy has emerged, the world tends to listen.
And that's precisely how we feel at the Sao Paulo Motor Show - there’s a sense of optimism and a level commitment from the big players that hasn’t been seen before here in Brazil. The fact that the Chinese economy is slowing and sales in Western Europe are looking grim has clearly added to the appeal of the Brazilian market but frankly, the figures speak for themselves.
Since 2003 the Brazilian economy has been growing steadily, it’s now the fourth largest car market in the world and by 2014 annual sales are on course for four million vehicles. By 2018, VW predicts that sales here will have grown by 48 per cent and there’s little reason to doubt it.
VW is the elder statesman of the Brazilian market - it started building cars here as far back as 1959 and is considered a home manufacturer by the Brazilian public. The Taigun ‘up! SUV’ concept was the clear star of the show and superbly designed – close up it seemed barely larger than an up!, but from a distance it had all the rugged presence of a proper off-roader.
Other manufacturers pledged their commitment to Brazil, too. The Nissan Extrem concept, the first concept made specifically for Sao Paulo, had all the aggression of a clenched fist, and with a bit of luck could point the way towards a sporty sub-Juke crossover. The Dacia Duster-based Renault DCross concept was a clear reaction to Brazilian customers wanting their car to look ‘tougher’.
Whether all this investment in Brazil will mean a raft of exciting new models for the UK, we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know is that it’s great news for the car industry as a whole.