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GM to invest $3.8B in Brazil through 2019

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Tuesday it is doubling its investment into Brazil through 2019 to bolster sales in the country, as it develops a new global family of Chevrolets.

The automaker also announced the retirement of Jaime Ardila, president of GM South America. He has worked for the automaker for nearly three decades and will be replaced by Barry Engle, CEO of natural gas fuel systems auto supplier Agility Fuel Systems in Santa Ana, California.

GM said it now plans to spend about $3.8 billion U.S. dollars in Brazil from 2014-19 to give buyers there new vehicles focused on connectivity, security and fuel efficiency. Last August, GM said it would spend about half that amount in Brazil through 2018 to develop new vehicles and technologies.

GM Brazil President Santiago Chamorro called the investment the largest ever planned by GM in Brazil and shows the automaker’s commitment to Brazil and the potential for growth there. Last year, GM sold 578,983 Chevrolets in Brazil.

Ardila, 60, helped grow Chevrolet in South America. He began his GM career in 1984 in Colombia.

The automaker said Engle will be responsible for GM operations in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. He will report to GM President Dan Ammann. GM, through the first half of 2015, has lost $358 million pretax in South America, a region where it has faced economic and currency challenges.

“Barry brings a wealth of leadership, global perspective and previous automotive experience to this significant position in our company,” Ammann said in a statement. “He also has valuable operations experience in the Brazilian market from earlier in his career.”

Engle, 51, previously was president of Ford Brazil and Mercosul, and was director of marketing, sales and service for Ford in Brazil.

Earlier Tuesday, GM announced it will spend $5 billion over several years on a new family of Chevrolet vehicles aimed at emerging markets including Brazil, China, India and Mexico. The first of the new vehicles will roll out in the 2019 model year. The automaker eventually expects to sell more than 2 million of the new vehicles a year.

GM has a co-development deal with partner SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. in China to jointly develop the core architecture and an engine.

mburden@detroitnews.com