Nissan Motors has launched its much-awaited, low-cost compact car in China and hopes to become a major force in the fast-growing segment with a global sales target of one million units a year by 2013.Nissan will produce 90,000 of the five-door hatchbacks, built on new “versatile platform” vehicle underpinnings, in Bangkok starting April 1. An estimated 70,000 of the cars will be exported.
The 1,200-cc engine compact, called March in Thailand, China and Japan, and Micra in India, Europe and other markets will have a price range between $11,500 $16,500).
Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said the compact would be sold in more than 160 countries, with Thailand one of four main manufacturing and export hubs with China, India and Mexico.
Nissan expects production in China to begin in the second half of this year. Production of the March model would nearly double Nissan’s Thai car output to 200,000 units a year.
The Micra/March, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in early March, is the Japanese car maker’s most important model in years, the culmination of extensive experimenting with new materials and component designs for production in low-cost countries.
Nissan is the first of six global car makers to obtain generous Thai government incentives to produce small vehicles under the country’s “eco-car projects.” Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Suzuki and Tata are also licensed to compete in the same market.