Ford do Brasil plans to expand its exports of pickup trucks to Venezuela, Mexico and Australia in order to reach its total export goal of $300 million this year, says Antonio Maciel Neto, president of Ford Motor Co.'s Brazilian division. Additionally, the ZetecRoCam engine and transmission systems manufactured at the Taubate, Sao Paulo, plant are being exported to seven countries, generating $91 million in export sales to date.

Ford exports rose 40% in the year's first five months over the same period last year. “Our main concern is the devaluation of the real (Brazil's domestic currency), compared to the dollar,” Mr. Neto says, noting that it increases production costs in Brazil.

In May, the automaker recorded its best month since September 1999, selling 13,900 vehicles, led by the Fiesta at 4,900 units. Ford pickups were the best-selling vehicles in their category, with the Courier Ranger and F-250 selling a combined 3,500 units. The truck factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo, inaugurated in January, sold 12,600 units in five months.

Ford has closed its Ipiranga unit in Sao Paulo, and set up truck operations at a new factory in Sao Bernardo with energy-saving equipment (see related story on Brazil's energy crisis, p.42).