Nissan Motor launched its low-cost compact car in Thailand on Friday, and has set a global sales target of 1m units a year by 2013.
Nissan executives told Reuters the company would produce 90,000 of the five-door hatchbacks, built on new “versatile platform” architecture at its suburban Bangkok plant in the fiscal year starting 1 April, of which 70,000 would be for export. The Thai plant already exports other models widely throughout the region, including Australia and New Zealand
The new compact will be called the March in Thailand, China and Japan and Micra in India, Europe and other markets is priced range at THB375,000-THB537,000 (US$11,500-$16,500) in Thailand, about 20% cheaper than similar cars from rivals.
Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said at the global launch that the compact would be sold in more than 160 countries, with Thailand one of four main manufacturing and export hubs along with China, India and Mexico. The outgoing March/Micra was built in Japan and the UK. The new Juke compact crossover will soon take its place on the British assembly line.
Shiga expected production in China to begin in the second half of this year but declined to provide other details, including its pricing in key Asian markets.
He also did not say when Nissan would introduce the vehicle in India where it would compete for both domestic and export sales with models from Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor.
March production would nearly double Nissan’s Thai car output to 200,000 units a year, Reuters said.
Nissan was the first of six global car makers to obtain generous Thai government incentives to produce small vehicles under the country’s ‘eco-car projects’.
Other companies licensed to compete with Nissan in the same segment are Toyota, Mitsubishi Motors, Honda Motor, Suzuki Motor and Tata Motors.