SAO PAULO — Fujio Cho, president of Toyota Motor Corp., is expected to visit the Japanese automaker's Brazilian factories sometime this month.

Although the visit is cloaked in secrecy, Cho is expected to announce that the Yaris, Toyota's most successful product in Europe, will be built in Brazil. The automaker has plenty of capacity at its factory in Indaiatuba, and the compact model will have significant potential in the country. The plant has set up a second shift and currently manufactures 75 Corollas per day.

The probable entry of the Yaris model is just one of the moves Japanese automakers are making in Brazil. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., supported by partner Renault SA, will produce some of its models in Parana. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. recently decided to transform its Brazilian subsidiary into the operational center for South America.

If Yaris is produced in Brazil, it will compete with General Motors Corp.'s Celta — to be built at the company's new Blue Macaw plant in Rio Grande du Sol. It also will compete with the Renault Clio and the Fiat Uno.

Toyota has a solid presence in the region, building its 4-wheel-drive Bandeirante in Sao Bernardo do Campo. It also has a factory in Zarate, Argentina, where it assembles the Hilux pickup. Half of the Hilux parts, including the chassis and axles, are produced in Sao Bernardo do Campo.

Honda, meanwhile, plans to produce 20,000 Civics this year in light of a 20% increase in sales in the first half over same-period last year.

The company in May manufactured 100 cars per day at its factory in Sumare, Sao Paulo, on two shifts, compared to 70 per day in December, hoping to gain market share over medium-size cars such as the Fiat Marea and the Corolla.

Honda now has a 1.7% market share, while Toyota holds a 1% market share for the first half. Sales of all cars manufactured in Brazil rose 7.3% in the first half compared with same period 1999.