UK-built Nissan Micras (now sold primarily in Europe) are not affected by a massive recall of 1.01m cars announced in Japan on Friday, a Nissan spokeswoman in England told

Nissan Motor is recalling locally-built March (the Japanese domestic market version of the Micra) and Cube models sold in Japan for repairs to defective fuel tanks, in what Bloomberg News said was the automaker’s second-biggest single home market recall.

Citing a statement from the country’s transport ministry, the news agency said the country’s third-largest automaker would fix fuel tanks that may crack or leak. Nissan reportedly will spend JPY3bn (about $US25.5m) to fix the faults.

Bloomberg News noted that Nissan joins larger rival Honda in recalling more than a million vehicles this month. The automakers are using more common parts in different vehicle models in order to cut procurement and development costs, leading to greater numbers of cars needing to be repaired when defects occur, the report added.

“Nissan is sharing parts across its model line-up,” Yasuhiro Matsumoto, an analyst at Shinsei Securities in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News. “That’s the biggest reason for a big one-time recall.”

Nissan spokesman Yuichi Nakagawa told the news agency the cars involved were built between December 1991 and August 2000. No accidents related to the defects have been reported. The company has received 59 complaints.

Of the 1.01m vehicles, 4,000 have been exported to Singapore and Brunei, Nakagawa told Bloomberg News. He said 600,000 are still registered domestically while the remainder are no longer listed as being driven in Japan.

No other recalls related to the fuel tanks will be announced outside Japan, he was reported to have said.

Although none of multiple reports have mentioned this, it is possible that some of the affected cars are in markets that have allowed bulk imports of used cars from Japan, such as New Zealand, and some Middle East, eastern Europe and former USSR countries.

Bloomberg News said vehicle quality in Japan has come under closer scrutiny since Toyota was ordered by the country’s transport ministry last year to improve its oversight of defects following a probe into a recall of its Hilux sport-utility vehicles.

The news agency noted that, earlier this month, Honda recalled more than 1m vehicles in the US, Japan and China in a week, mainly involving the same parts [fuel pumps and power steering components].

Nissan’s biggest single recall, in October 2003, involved about 1.03m vehicles in Japan and covered 23 models, including the Sunny, March and Cube compact cars and the Bluebird Sylphy sedan, the report added.

Bloomberg News said the same defect had forced Nissan to recall a total of 2.56m vehicles globally and to spend as much as JPY16bn in 2003.

Graeme Roberts