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MAN boosts truck output in Brazil

January 26th, 2010

MAN will raise capacity at its Brazilian truck plant by up to a third to meet a rapidly rising demand, in a move that illustrates the fast economic recovery of the world’s largest developing countries.

The German conglomerate will re-introduce a third shift at its Resende plant in the Rio de Janeiro county, Antonio Roberto Cortes, president of MAN Latin America, told the Financial Times.

The move will shift capacity from 50,000 to up to 72,000 trucks a year and will lead to the creation of 700 jobs at the plant, which is currently employing 4700.

It came as the Latin America’s largest truck maker posted record sales in December, spurred by government incentives for trucks and buses and growing consumer demand in Brazil.

“Brazil has left the global economic crisis behind and will continue to grow this year. We are confident that other countries in Latin America will also see further growth,” Mr Cortes said.

He said Brazil’s overall economy had entered a V-shaped recovery, and truck sales would rebound to 2008 levels this year.

“My feeling is that BRIC [the term used for the most rapidly developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China], or I should say BIC as Russia is still struggling, will have recovered much earlier than the rest of the world,” Mr Cortes said.

The global truck market has been battered by the world’s rapid economic downturn in 2009. Sales fell by more than 50 per cent in some regions such as Europe.

China was one of the few regions where sales increased – by 15 per cent. Sales in the Brazilian market, by far the largest in Latin America, fell by a moderate 10 per cent.

The mood in the global truck industry has slightly improved recently amid tepid signs of a comeback in demand.

Daimler, the world’s largest truck maker, posted a slight sales increase between October and November. But, when compared to the previous year, sales still dropped by 36 per cent in November.

Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler’s truck and bus group, said: “In our order books, we see at least the beginning of a slight market recovery in many regions.”

Truck makers such as Daimler and MAN have seized on the crisis in the past year by accelerating their expansion into BRIC countries.

MAN has made a strong push into emerging markets in the past few years, when it bought a 25 per cent stake in China’s largest truck maker, acquired the number one lorry business in Brazil and launched a joint venture in India.

It paid €1bn ($1.4bn, £873m) for the Latin American heavy truck business of Volkswagen, MAN’s main shareholder, a move that catapulted the group into the region’s market lead.

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