Nissan Motor has confirmed it will take control of its Thai joint ventures in an attempt to turn around its sales in the country’s growing car market.

Japan’s third biggest car manufacturer will invest $US195 million to raise its shares in its two ventures – Siam Nissan Automobile Co Ltd and Siam Motors and Nissan Co Ltd – to 75% from 25%.

Siam Nissan Automobile Co Ltd is the assembler and distributor of the Nissan brand in Thailand, and Siam Motors & Nissan Co is the distributor. Siam Nissan has an annual manufacturing capacity of 140,000 units. Its main models are the Frontier pickup truck and the Sunny model passenger car.

This move, an important step in the company’s turnaround business plan, will allow Siam Nissan to benefit from Nissan’s marketing power and should boost its sales in Thailand and Southeast Asia. As part of its medium term business plan, Nissan Motor aims to raise its global sales by a million vehicles from 2001 levels to 3.6 million vehicles by 2005.

Total car sales in Thailand grew by 30% in 2003. In the past few years, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, Nissan’s main domestic competitors, have increased their sales in Thailand, while Nissan Motor’s market share has decreased from 15% in 1997 to 8.2% in 2003. In 2003, Nissan sales in Thailand decreased 1.8% with 43,557 vehicles sold.

Nowadays, vehicles manufacturers are focusing on Asia to boost their global sales as the traditional auto markets such the US, Europe and Japan are showing only moderate sales growth. Nissan’s decision to use its Thai manufacturing facilities as a key export base for other countries in the region is a shrewd move.

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