Brazil's auto makers began 2002 with optimism, hoping to recover from several years of slow sales that began with a slack economy and a crippling energy crisis in 2000. Much ground was lost in 2001 due to Argentina's uncertain political situation and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., which shook international investors' confidence in the region. Brazil proved especially vulnerable because of its huge budget deficit – a holdover from an era of military rule. But 2002, hit by ...

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