Nissan Motor Iberica expects to produce 190,000 cars in Spain this year, driven by the new Pathfinder SUV and Navara pick-up truck, which it plans to build in Barcelona for European distribution, Communications Director Emilio Fábrega confirms.

Moreover, the Japanese automaker is forecasting sales will increase 7% to 75,000 cars this year, driven by the Pathfinder, Navara and the introduction of the Micra mini convertible in the fall.

Nissan will make 70,000 Pathfinder and Navaras, the latter of which will begin assembly in July.

The revelations comes as Nissan Iberica last year reported an 85% profit jump to €52m, on revenues up 20% to €2.06bn, boosted by its Top' 07 cost cutting plan.

Production swelled to 123,48 units from 98,024 in 2003. Investments totaled €262.8m as Nissan worked to adapt its main factory in Barcelona's Zona Franca industrial site to build the Pathfinder and the Navara, Fábrega noted.

Fábrega did not provide financial or investment targets for this year but said revenues will rise significantly as the company benefits from higher production rates.

The 190,000 sales target will be achieved between Nissan's four Spanish factories in Barcelona, Avila, Madrid and Santander.

Ivan Castano