Fiat executive: Brazil car sales to rise 3 to 5 percent in 2012 image

Fiat Auto SpA’s commercial director for Brazil said on Tuesday he expected the local car market to grow between 3 percent and 5 percen this year, if not more.

The forecast is based on the fact that lower interest rates revive demand. “We think it’s going to grow at the same rate as Brazil’s GDP. Maybe more,” Lelio Ramos told Dow Jones Newswires. Ramos added growth would mostly come in the small and medium-sized segments of the market. The executive admitted however that the Brazilian market would no longer see big growth rates of previous years such as 7 percent or 8 percent. “We won’t grow the way we used to grow,” he said.

In the first half of January, sales of cars and light commercial vehicles in Brazil reached 119,344 units, 4.7 percent more than in the same period last year. However, the figure is a 24 percent decline from the previous month, as December is a traditionally strong period for sales.

In 2011, Brazilian new car sales rose 2.9 percent, less than the 4.2 percent growth rate forecasted by car dealer association Fenabrave and the 5 percent forecast by carmaker association Anfavea. Fiat is the biggest carmaker in Brazil.