Nissan and China partner Dongfeng to invest $8 bln

Nissan and its Chinese partner Dongfeng Motor Co. will invest 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) and launch around 30 vehicle models in China over the next five years, the Japanese auto giant said Tuesday.

The two firms also plan to increase sales from nearly 1.3 million vehicles in 2010 to more than 2.3 million units by 2015 and launch a fully electric zero-emission car for the Chinese market, Nissan said in a statement.

"Nissan's strong partnership with Dongfeng Motor Corporation has been the primary driver of its robust growth over the past eight years in the Chinese market," Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor's chief executive, said in the statement.

"The new plan, with its investments in capacity, products and innovation, will ensure that China continues to be Nissan's largest global market."

China, which overtook the US to become the world's top auto market in 2009, has become increasingly important for global players. Auto sales in China rose more than 32 per cent last year to a record 18.06 million units.

But the sector has since lost steam after Beijing phased out sales incentives such as tax breaks for small-engined vehicles, introduced to ward off the impact of the global financial crisis.

The government is considering new incentives to revive the sector. But an industry group still predicted earlier this month that auto sales growth was expected to slow, despite showing a slight rebound in June.

Nissan said its Chinese joint venture planned to achieve and maintain a 10 per cent share of the Chinese market over the next five years.

Ghosn told reporters at a press conference that Nissan currently has a 6.2 per cent share of the market.

The two firms will also build a new manufacturing facility in the eastern province of Jiangsu, which will reinforce existing plants in other parts of the country to achieve the 2015 sales target, it added.

Sales of the first passenger vehicle sporting the Dongfeng Nissan brand Venucia are scheduled for next year, and a total of five new models will be launched under that brand.

Source AFP