October 9, 2017 / 9:43 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil auto industry sees 2018 sales, output growth over 10 pct

(Adds details, context, investment news)

By Alberto Alerigi Jr.

SAO PAULO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Auto industry leaders projected sales and output growth of more than 10 percent in Brazil next year at an industry event on Monday, underscoring hopes for a rebounding market as Mercedes-Benz announced new investments in bus and truck plants.

Antonio Megale, the head of industry group Anfavea, said global automakers in Brazil would likely produce some 3 million vehicles next year, up from an estimated 2.7 million this year but well below the 3.7 million made at the market’s 2013 peak.

Vehicle sales should also pick up from 7.3 percent growth forecast this year to double-digit growth next year, he said at the Congresso Autodata Perspectivas 2018 event in Sao Paulo, adding to hopes for a market that shrank 40 percent in the last three years.

“We’re past the trickiest part of the crisis,” he said. “Healthy sales growth along with strong exports mean we will have better production numbers.”

Adding to enthusiasm, the Mercedes-Benz unit of Daimler AG announced plans to invest 2.4 billion reais ($750 million) from 2018 to 2022 in Brazilian plants making bus and truck chassis.

Mercedes-Benz executives said in a statement that the upgrades to factories would prepare the company for a rebound in commercial vehicle sales, led by a surging farm sector and signs of recovery in mining, fuel distribution and meat processing.

The top executive for General Motors Co in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, Carlos Zarlenga, said at the event that his company was also planning to invest more in the region.

“We’re not done with the investment announcements and we’ll have more soon,” he told the audience. ($1 = 3.18 reais) (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr.; Additional reporting by Natalia Scalzaretto; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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