Nissan is looking to create up to 82 new dealerships in India by 2012 as it prepares to start Micra production for local and export sales next month.

According to Japanese media reports, Nissan will establish the network by 2012 as it endeavours to rival competitors who already have a foothold in the fast-growing Indian market.

The Renault-Nissan alliance will start selling the redesigned Micra hatchback in India from July and has targeted 80,000 domestic sales for the financial year ending March 2011.

Initially 20 dealerships will sell the Micra.

The Micra, to be manufactured in Chennai, will be the first locally-made vehicle for Nissan, which only exports three models, inlcuding the X-Trail SUV, to India at present.

”Nissan’s debut has been late, but…we were able to make a timely entry into India when it is rapidly expanding,” Nissan CEO Kiminobu Tokuyama told Japanese media.

Tokuyama added Nissan would meet rising demand for cars in India through the expanded dealer network.

Nissan will also ship Chennai-built Micras to Europe, the Middle East and Africa and media reports said it could also ship Indian-made parts, such as brake pedals, to other Micra/March assembly plants in Japan, China and Thailand.

Like rivals Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor, Nissan has designated its new Indian plant as a production hub to export vehicles mainly to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at lower cost.

”The importance of India in Nissan’s global business strategy is extremely high,” added Tokuyama, although he noted China would remain the key emerging market.

The Chennai factory is a US$990m investment to build the Micra which was previously made in Japan and the UK.

Initial sales target is 80,000 uni Nissan is maintinaing its 80,000-a-year Indian sales target to March 2011 but Chennai will eventually be able to assemble up to 400,000 cars a year.

Combined with a local supplier park consisting of six companies, Nissan has estimated Chennai will create 6,000 jobs in the region.