Nissan Motor has confirmed media reports late last month it plans to spend THB11bn (US$358m) on a second assembly plant in Thailand.

Scheduled to start production in August 2014, the new plant will cope with expected growth in the ASEAN region and complement the existing Nissan Motor (Thailand) (NMT) factory. The new plant would have an initial annual production capacity of 75,000 units and expand up to 150,000 units.

"The new facility will keep Thailand as our largest manufacturing centre in the ASEAN region," said Hiroto Saikawa, executive vice president, Nissan Motor. "This investment is an important component to achieve the goals of our corporate mid-term business plan, Nissan Power 88 - to increase market share and sustain business growth in this very important region.

"Adding 150,000 units of production capacity will not only enable us to raise our competitiveness in the domestic market, but will ensure Thailand's position as a key strategic global export hub for Nissan," he added.

Nissan's sole Thai assembly plant produces passenger cars and pickup trucks, employs 6,000 people and has annual production capacity of 220,000 units. It exports models like the Micra/March and Maxima within ASEAN and further afield such as Japan and Australia.

The new plant will located on the same road and will serve the growing demands for vehicles in both domestic and regional markets. Once the second facility is operating at full capacity, the company will have a combined production capacity of 370,000 units per year.

Last month, Kyodo News noted that Nissan had initially planned to develop a new pickup truck jointly with Mitsubishi Motors and manufacture the new model at its rival's Thai plant but decided to produce such trucks at its own plant after the plan was abandoned.

"This investment is a key factor in achieving our target of 15% market share in Thailand by 2016, as outlined in our local mid-term business plan, Power Up 2016," said Takayuki Kimura, president, NMT.

"Strengthening our operations here confirms Nissan's commitment to and confidence in the Thai market. I am also excited that this new plant will add 2,000 new jobs to the Thai economy."

Nissan, which established its local business in 1952, was the first Japanese automaker in Thailand. Today, it sells seven models there - Teana, Sylphy, Tiida, Almera, March, X-Trail and Navara.

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