Nissan Motor on Thursday said it will launch six models in Europe over the next two years in an attempt to further boost its robust sales in the region.

A Dow Jones report said the move may also help Nissan, which has been reaping robust profit growth in the US, diversify its profit sources in the global market.

Nissan, which has teamed up with its parent Renault SA of France to strengthen its European operations, reportedly will launch its Murano crossover sport utility vehicle model in Europe by the end of this year. Sales of the Murano, which was launched in North America in 2002, have remained strong and Nissan has also decided to launch the SUV model in Japan this autumn.

Dow Jones said the Murano will be followed by the release in 2005 of another SUV and a pickup truck, both of which will be manufactured at Nissan’s Spanish plant. A convertible version of the Micra subcompact, Nissan’s strongest seller in Europe, will also be among the six models introduced.

This model is expected to be built in Nissan’s highly-efficient UK plant, in Sunderland, north-east England.

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Dow Jones said the decision to introduce new models comes as Nissan, like Toyota and other major Asian automakers, has enjoyed brisk sales in Europe – its sales rose 14.4% in 2003 to 542,292 vehicles.

Japanese carmakers, whose earnings are relatively strong in Europe partly thanks to a strong euro, are also beefing up their European operations, the report noted.

Toyota on Tuesdy said it will set up new research and development facilities in Europe to design more vehicles specifically for the region and accelerate sales there, Dow Jones said.

The news agency, citing Association of European Auto Manufacturers data, said Japanese and Korean manufacturers increased their combined share of the western European car market by 1.8 percentage points to 16% in 2003.