Russia became the biggest European market for Nissan in Nissan’s 2007/08 financial year, which ended in March.

A report in French daily Les Echos says this has been attributed to the positive image of Japanese brands in Russia, the recent launch of Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti and a boom in car sales on the Russian market.

Russia is expected to account for a large proportion of growth at Nissan this year, the report says.

The company’s sales volumes for the entire region, including Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, soared by 80 % to 161,000 vehicles last year, while sales volumes in western Europe rose by just 4.3% to 479,000 vehicles. Nissan is to open its first assembly site in Russia in January 2009.

In calendar year 2007, Nissan sold 570,513 vehicles across 40 markets in Western and Eastern Europe including Russia. In 2007, the company produced a total of 576,632 vehicles in its Spanish and British plants.