Electric vehicles will replace subcompacts on a Japanese assembly line when Nissan Motor shifts production of its March (Micra) subcompact for Japanese and south east Asian markets from Oppama in Kanagawa Prefecture to Thailand in 2010 when the redesigned model is launched.

Oppama would instead make electric vehicles due on sale from 2010, unidentified Nissan officials told Kyodo News on Friday.

The automaker last October said it would transfer Micra export market production, primarily for Europe, from the UK to the new $US833m plant being built with alliance partner Renault in Orgadam. Over a third of the Renault Nissan Automotive India factory’s 400,000-unit capacity would eventually be exported.

“We will roll out the small car from our Chennai plant while the plant in Thailand is the mother unit for that model,” RNAI managing director Shouhei Kimura said in October.

Volume production would start by 2010 and Nissan planned initially to export 110,000 cars a year from 2011 through Ennore port.

Nissan Europe’s Sunderland plant here in the UK would replace the Micra with a new compact vehicle – expected to be a new SUV – from 2010.