Nissan Motor president Carlos Ghosn said on Wednesday his company is planning to launch its popular Murano sports utility vehicle in Japan next autumn, Dow Jones said.

Though it didn't provide sales targets for Japan, Nissan's sales of the Murano have totalled 45,000 units monthly since its launch in North American markets last year, the report added.

While Japan's overall market for SUVs has stagnated, demand has been growing for models that ride more like a passenger vehicle than a truck, Dow Jones said, noting that the Murano has a 3.5-litre V6 engine and a car chassis, and is available in both four-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive configurations for a US price of about $US30,000.

Dow Jones said Nissan makes the Murano at a plant in Fukuoka Prefecture, southern Japan and ery few modifications will be necessary for the Japanese market, other than moving the steering wheel to the right-hand side.

The news agency noted that the company has so far launched 20 new models worldwide under its three-year " Nissan 180" plan to expand sales and cut costs, with at least eight more to be released before the end of fiscal 2005.