Nissan Australia has announced it will begin local manufacture of a range of vehicle accessories at its casting plant in Dandenong, Victoria. The company ended Australian vehicle production at Clayton in 1992 but retained the local casting unit.

The decision to make tow bars, and later sportbars and nudge bars, is part of the automaker's GT2012 and NP88 midterm business growth plans.

The decision to repatriate fabrication of 30,000 tow bars, for Nissan's range of 4WD and passenger vehicles, returns the business to Dandenong from Asia and will sustain 20 full time jobs at the casting plant (NCAP). Nissan previously sourced its tow bars from a local supplier which outsourced production to Asian factories.

Nissan has retooled part of its Dandenong casting facility to make room for the new accessory fabrication business investing AUD 4m (US$4.1m) in plant and equipment. Once tow bar manufacture is fully integrated, Nissan will add 4WD sportbar and utility nudge bar production. Manufacture of sportbars (which are affixed to Nissan Navara cabs) and nudge bars (a lightweight alternative to bull bars) begins in early 2012 and early 2013 respectively.

Another significant factor in the new tow bar fabrication business plan is the sourcing of steel from an Australian supplier. Previously, Nissan towbars were manufactured from foreign steel supplied to foreign factories. Now, an Australian steel producer will deliver metals to the Dandenong plant.

This development gives Nissan Australia added protection against fluctuating currency movements and greater surety in planning its development in the medium term.

From 2012, sportbars will be made locally using Australian aluminium and 12 months later nudge bars will added to the production line. A quality improvement is also anticipated as the Nissan Dandenong plant plans to use robotics to produce the high lustre finish desired by customers with these accessories. Polishing was previously completed by hand in the offshore supplier factories.

The Nissan Dandenong casting plant also is eventually expected to produce 22,000 electric vehicle components per month.

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