Sao Paulo, Brazil – The luxury car market in Brazil is in its infancy compared to first-world markets, but it is growing fast. Five years ago, only 5,000 luxury cars were sold in Brazil. This year the number will top 100,000 and luxury marques are taking notice. Rolls-Royce just opened its first showroom in the country and BMW is building a production plant.
Two major factors continue to mitigate against ultra-expensive models, especially sports cars. Firstly only 10 percent of Brazil’s roads are paved, the rest are rough dirt tracks. Secondly wealthy people are routinely kidnapped for ransom in urban areas so flaunting your success is ill advised.
Foreign company executives are targets for criminal elements in Brazil, so an armored car and bodyguard are standard procedure. For example, American Grace Lieblein, president of GM Brazil, travels around in a bullet-proof Chevy Malibu.
Beware the kite flyers: Who would imagine that kite flyers could pose a danger to motorcyclists? In Sao Paulo you see motorcycles and scooters with a small rod mounted vertically on the handlebars. The rods are there to deflect kite lines that end up stretched across roads. The lines fall because kite flyers coat them with glue and tiny shards of broken glass, the point being to cut a rival’s line during mass kite ‘battles.’ Not surprisingly the razor sharp lines can be hazardous to motorcyclists’ health.
Cars and football: Sports-mad Brazilians are gleefully anticipating the coming of 2014 World Cup soccer to Sao Paulo and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. As you might expect, the leading automakers in the country are all over the impending events. At the Sao Paulo auto show, virtually every press conference had a famous football player or athlete on stage and World Cup and Olympic logos were ubiquitous.