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The Great Brazil — Russia Auto Race

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Frans Lemmens | The Image Bank | Getty Images
Russia

If the last two weeks have told us anything, it's this: There is a great race among the automakers to win in Russia and Brazil.

You may have read that last sentence and thought, "who cares?"

Ignore it if you want, but it's in Russia, Brazil and in the developing markets where the automakers will lay the groundwork for their success later this decade.

Consider the following:

  • Today in Brazil, Hyundai broke groundon a new production plant that will have the capacity to build 150,000 thousand models a year when production starts in 2012.
  • Today in Russia, Fiat filed papersto build a new plant that will build up to 300,000 Fiat and Jeep models annually.
  • Earlier this week Russian automaker Sollers dropped Fiatand signed a joint venture agreement with Ford to build 300,000 cars annually.

And that's just within the last three days.

If you are just waking up to the fact that Russia and Brazil are booming automarkets, don't feel bad. After all, over the last two years most of our attention has been focused on the free fall and survival of the GM, Chrysler and Ford. The other big story has been the massive recalls at Toyota. While all of that has played out, the growing potential in developing auto markets has not received as much attention.

The fact is, Russia is on pace to pass up Germany and become the largest auto market in Europe. Meanwhile Brazil, already the largest auto market in South America is on track to be the world's third largest by 2015. Add those two markets in with China, and you see why it is critical for the automakers to make sure they are major players in all three.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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