Saturday, May 10th 2014 – 08:03

Brazilian vehicle production rose 1.6% last month compared with March, but was down 21.4% from the level of April 2013, the Anfavea auto industry association said Friday. Last month saw 277,100 cars, trucks, SUVs and buses roll off assembly lines in Brazil, significantly short of the 352,400 vehicles produced by Latin America’s largest economy in April 2013.

The country’s automakers continue to furlough and even lay off workers in the face of reduced demand, Anfavea said. Besides weak domestic sales, the Brazilian auto sector is suffering from a drop in exports to neighboring Argentina, its main foreign market.

The number of vehicles sold last month in Brazil – 293,240 – represents a gain of 21% over March, but a decline of 12.1% compared with a year ago.

Measured year-on-year, exports tumbled 30.4% to 36,700 units, according to the Anfavea bulletin.

Output for the first four months of 2014 totaled 1.07 million units, a 12% drop from the same period last year, while vehicle sales were off 5% to 1.1 million units.

Brazil exported 111,900 vehicles in the January-April period, plunging 31.9% from the first four months of 2013, due mainly to a steep fall in sales to Argentina.

Despite the negative indicators, Anfavea forecasts that the Brazilian auto industry will produce 3.71 million vehicles in 2014, an increase of 1.4% over last year’s record, and calls for sales to edge up 1.1% to 3.81 million units.

Anfavea’s optimism is based on government plans to make auto loans more accessible and to reach an accord with Argentina aimed at restoring the volume of vehicle exports.