World Power Beyond The Equator

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World Power Beyond The Equator
World Power Beyond The Equator

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Video: World Power Beyond The Equator
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South America is treated very neglected as a car market. Manufacturers in the two largest markets of Argentina and Brazil are fighting for coveted market shares.

By Stefan Grundhof f

The USA and Europe were once considered the most important automobile markets in the world. But alongside Asia, South America is becoming increasingly important for the automotive industry. Especially new small cars from local production now shape the picture. But also ancient rattle boxes still populate the streets in the two main markets of Brazil and Argentina by the thousands.

Between small cars and rattle boxes

With more than three million registrations, Brazil has long been a real world market. The bulk of sales are shared by three brands. Number one is Fiat with a market share of around 25 percent. Models like the Siena notchback sedan, the Palio sister model or the Strada compact pick-up make their mark on the streetscape. The number two on the market, Volkswagen, is also shaping the picture with the twin compact cars Gol and Fox or the old VW Transporter T2. The round, charming Bully is still produced in Brazil to this day and is generally considered to be a cheap and popular packhorse. Thanks to local productions, Volkswagen shines with a market share of over 20 percent; closely followed by General Motors.

This is also reflected on the streets. In addition to thousands of old rust arbors and rattling pick-ups from the 1970s, you can see numerous current South American models such as the Chevrolet Corsa or the VW Gol. And while the European market had to wait a long time for economy vehicles like the Dacia Sandero, this one had been on the Brazilian market as Renault Sandero for a long time.

Ethanol modern again

From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, there were almost only ethanol vehicles in Brazil. In times of high oil prices, alternative fuel is back at the top after a downturn in the 1990s. Over 90 percent of new vehicles in Ronaldo and Pele's country use the flexfuel principle. The engines can handle any mixture ratio of gasoline and the much cheaper ethanol. While a liter of petrol costs the equivalent of a good euro in Brazil, the price of ethanol per liter is just half. Diesel does not play a major role in South America and especially in the state of Brazil, especially apart from commercial vehicles.

Brazil is also the most important automotive location in South America. Numerous companies have their vehicles produced for the South American markets; some import the models from Brazil all over the world. The world's largest plant of the market leader Fiat is not in its home country Italy, but in Belo Horizonte. Up to 800,000 vehicles roll off the assembly line every year; there are also more than a million engines. But Honda, GM, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Renault have also been producing vehicles "Made in Brazil" with great success for years.

Contested truck segment

Just as competitive as the car market is the truck segment, in which VW and Mercedes have their pants on. The supplier companies have long since placed development centers and production facilities in Brazil around the car factories. Including Magneti Marelli, Bosch and VDO. In the second largest South American market, Argentina, the clocks are a little different. Older rattles from a bygone era dominate the streetscape - not only in the capital Buenos Aires. If a car is less than 15 years old, it is usually a small car; at best a car from the compact class.

The larger models are numerous, but all of them have a few decades under their belt. Bumper to bumper, rattling rust arbors of the type Peugeot 504, Ford Falcon, Renault 9 or VW Magnum press their way through the mostly overcrowded alleys, streets and boulevards. Traffic and security controls only exist on paper and so everything that is drivable and wheeled is on the way. Even a slightly critical MOT would shut down more than two thirds of all cars here overnight.

18 lanes

In the inner cities of Mendoza, Buenos Aires or Cordoba there are always traffic jams that last for hours. In the countryside, there are also frequent police checks, during which passengers and cars are checked. In the larger cities, many Argentines rely on small motorcycles, buses and taxis instead of cars. They make their way through traffic much faster than ordinary vehicles.

The best example of the chaos on Argentina's streets is the Avenida of July 9 in Buenos Aires, which circles the monolith as a symbol of Buenos Aires. There are an incredible 18 lanes here. In the rush hour between 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. every crossing on foot lets you play with life. It's a lot safer in the car. If a vehicle is bought new, it is one that is locally or at least South American. Unlike in Brazil, the vehicles in Argentina are all petrol or diesel powered. Unlike in other South American countries, bioethanol or E85 fuel has not yet caught on there.

Without ESP and ABS

About half an hour north of Buenos Aires are large factories from manufacturers such as Ford and Volkswagen. This is where the Ford Eco Sport and the new VW hopefuls Amarok are built. "Around 60 percent of all new cars sold are small cars," says Ernesto Baldassare of Maynar Motor, one of the largest car dealerships in Argentina. "It's no different with us. The VW Gol has been a big hit with the public for years."

The small car and the popular volume models from Renault, Ford, Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen cost between 7,500 and 10,000 euros. The Argentine car customer is anything but technology-loving and has no interest in safety equipment. Ernesto Baldassare: "We sell inexpensive models like the Gol, Suran or even the Golf IV without ABS, electrical aids or airbags. At best, people want air conditioning." No wonder, in the main summer months of January and February, temperatures well over 35 degrees Celsius are not uncommon. (mid)