PARIS - Renault will open a third plant in Curitiba, Brazil, at the end of next year, Chairman Louis Schweitzer announced last week.
The new $100 million plant will have a capacity of 50,000 units, and will build the Master light commercial vehicle (LCV). Launched in late 1997, the Master is also sold in Europe by Opel/Vauxhall under the name Movano.
'Talks are under way with GM to develop the same kind of cooperation in South America,' said Renault officials.
Curitiba's LCV plant is also expected to make Nissan vehicles, such as pickups.
A Renault-Nissan cross-company team is currently studying the potential for Nissan production at the plant. This is one of the 11 working groups in charge of implementing the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Renault and GM are also co-developing the 2001 successor to the Trafic van. The Trafic is currently built at Renault's Cordoba, Argentina plant.
Last December Renault opened a new $220 million engine plant in Curitiba, near the car assembly plant opened in December 1998.
'The pickup market in Brazil is divided in two parts: 100,000 units of small-car derivatives like the Chevrolet Corsa, and 200,000 units of medium and upper-size models,' said Daniel Cave, Renault marketing manager in Brazil.
'We've turned our radar on this (larger) field.'
Renault is trying to expand both its market share and dealer network in Brazil. The local new car market fell 40 percent last year to 1.2 million vehicles compared with 1997 levels. A dramatic recovery is not expected in 2000.