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Brazil Fiat unit to hire 1,700 more workers to meet local demand

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SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Italian automaker Fiat SpA will hire 1,700 workers at one of its two Brazilian plants to meet strong local demand, the company said Wednesday. Fiat had already hired 1,200 workers to start a third shift at the Betim plant in Minas Gerais state.

``Fortunately, the market conditions surpassed even those most optimistic estimates,'' said Roberto Gloria, Fiat's director of human resources for Latin America.

Fiat employs 9,000 people in Brazil, producing 2,500 vehicles a day. The new hires should help it raise that to 2,700 to keep up with the booming Brazilian automobile industry.

More than 670,000 motor vehicles were sold in Brazil in first quarter 2007, up 22.6 per cent from a year ago, according to the Brazilian Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association. Sales have climbed as the Brazilian Central Bank repeatedly reduces the benchmark Selic base interest rate, which currently stands at 12.5 per cent.

Volkswagen was the top seller in the first four months, followed by Fiat and General Motors.

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Brazil Fiat unit to hire 1,700 more workers to meet local demand
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