SAO PAULO, March 16 Toyota Motor Co
will soon begin selling Brazilian-made Corollas in Peru,
executives said on Thursday, and is in advanced studies to
export from Brazil to Chile and Colombia in a push to make its
South American plants more competitive.
Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's most senior executive in the
region, said the exports to Peru were part of a long-term plan
to integrate Brazilian operations with the rest of Latin
America, which has long imported Corollas from the United
Toyota's Brazilian factories, which exported only to
Argentina when St. Angelo arrived in 2013, also send the
mid-sized Corolla sedan and smaller Etios to Uruguay and
Toyota has invested in a new engine plant and engineering
facilities in Brazil, which St. Angelo said would be key to
lifting the domestic content of the Corolla and Etios from about
60 percent currently. As Brazilian plants import fewer parts,
they should be able to export more competitively to new markets,
Rafael Chang, the company's new chief executive in Brazil,
said he hoped to have news "soon" on exports to Chile and
Toyota's exports from Brazil rose nearly 10 percent in 2016
to about 43,000 cars, of some 176,000 vehicles produced in the
country last year.
"We're trying to diversify our Brazilian operations, so
we're not so dependent on this one economy," St. Angelo told
journalists at a launch event for the new Corolla in Brazil.
Brazil's worst recession in more than a century has nearly
halved auto sales since 2012, battering automakers'
profitability and leading them to cut some 35,000 workers.
Auto factories in Brazil are still using less than half of
installed capacity, as high unemployment and tight credit pinch
demand. St. Angelo acknowledged that Toyota had struggled to
turn a profit in the country during the recession.
"We're not going to break even this year," he said of the
Brazilian business, adding that Toyota had not finalized its
projections for the fiscal year. "We've been doing an
unbelievable amount of cost cutting. Everyone is sacrificing."
St. Angelo said an overhaul of Argentine operations had also
diversified exports from that country beyond just Brazil to
include Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Chile and Colombia.
(Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Toni Reinhold)