Nissan has completed its four-year programme called Shift-Mercosur begun in 2006 which included six new model launches. In that time it began importing the Murano crossover from Japan; the Tiida hatch and the new Sentra saloon from Mexico (thanks to a free trade deal with that country); and started local production of the new Frontier pick-up (dropping the XTerra and the old Frontier) and the Livina and Grand Livina minivans at alliance partner Renault’s plant in the state of Paraná.
Mercosur CEO Thomas Besson hopes to sell about 25,000 units in 2009, up 44% compared with 2008. That’s less than a 1% share of the car and light commercial market this year.
But Nissan has ambition. Besson told just-auto that “without a competitive compact model we cannot grow here. Our new strategic plan for 2010-2012 includes a car retailing for R$30,000 (US$16,700) to R$35,000 ($19,400) that can be sold both in the Mercosur region and Mexico.”
Local competition includes medium priced compact hatches like the Peugeot 207, Renault (Dacia) Sandero, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Corsa, Fiat Palio and VW Gol. Pitched slightly higher are the VW Polo, Citroen C3, Fiat Punto and the upcoming Chevy Agile.
Nissan’s new plan is still being finalised and should be announced shortly. Local speculation suggests a simplified Micra – the next generation will be made in India from 2010 – is the most likely model.
Besson declined to comment on where the South American version would be made – Brazil or Argentina.
It could even use the previous generation Renault Clio architecture. That car is built for this region in Cordoba, Argentina.