(Recasts with outlook, industry data, sales by brand)
By Aluisio Alves
SAO PAULO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Brazil’s auto industry is likely to recover around the middle of next year, the head of national automakers’ association Anfavea said on Thursday, underscoring the depths of a crisis that has battered global carmakers’ profits and triggered mass layoffs.
Sales and output have tumbled by a fifth so far this year and until recently auto executives were speaking in hopeful tones about a recovery by the end of 2015.
It now looks like that recovery will have to wait until the end of the second quarter of 2016, Anfavea President Luiz Moan told reporters after releasing industry data on the worst July for Brazilian auto output since 2006.
Production rose 17.8 percent from June, due in part to extra workdays, but fell 14.9 percent from July 2014.
Sales rose rose 7.1 percent from the month before, but fell 22.8 percent from a year earlier.
Climbing interest rates, inflation and unemployment have shaken Brazilian consumers’ confidence, weighing on demand for new vehicles and forcing many carmakers to idle assembly lines as inventories mount.
Brazil’s auto industry trimmed its work force 8 percent in the past 12 months, after cutting about 1,000 more jobs in July.
Brazil is one of the world’s five biggest auto markets, with major operations for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, whose earnings have suffered in the slump.
According to Anfavea data, Fiat remained Brazil’s top seller of cars and light trucks in July, with about 38,100 new registrations.
VW held a slim second place lead over GM, with around 31,200 sales, just ahead of its U.S. rival’s roughly 30,800 new registrations. Ford sold around 26,200 vehicles, up 29 percent from the month before. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Editing by Christian Plumb and Tom Brown)