BEIJING – Nissan Motor Co’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor (Group) Co, the largest Sino-foreign auto partnership, on Monday announced in Beijing that it plans to invest billions of US dollars and double its annual sales over the next five years.
The 50-50 joint venture, Dongfeng Motor Co Ltd, said it will invest 50 billion yuan ($7.76 billion) from 2011 to 2015. It expects to increase sales to 2.3 million vehicles by 2015 from 1.28 million last year.
The company plans to launch about 30 new models, including five under a new passenger car model, the Venucia. The joint venture will also expand the number of its domestic dealerships to 2,400 by 2015 from 1,400 at present, it said.
The aggressive expansion plan comes amid a sharp deceleration of China’s vehicle market as a result of the expiration of several incentives and tighter economic policies.
First-half vehicle sales increased 3.35 percent year-on-year to 9.33 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Growth was 32 percent last year.
The joint venture, formed in 2003 with registered capital of 16.7 billion yuan, makes passenger cars under the Nissan brand, as well as Dongfeng-brand commercial vehicles.
Xu Ping, chairman of the joint venture and of the parent Dongfeng Motor, said the tie-up expects to have a 10 percent market share in China by 2015.
Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said the brand also expects to hold a 10 percent share in China – the world’s biggest auto market – in 2015, compared with 6.2 percent last year. Nissan moved 1.02 million vehicles in China last year, surging 36 percent from 2009.
The first Venucia model will go on sale at the beginning of 2012. The joint venture said sales of the new model are expected to hit 300,000 a year in 2015.
Kimiyasu Nakamura, president of the joint venture, will also offer Venucia electric cars with an annual production of 50,000 units by 2015.
Nakamura said the joint venture will also strengthen its research and development (R&D) capabilities by expanding its R&D staff to 6,000 in 2015 from 3,500 at present.
Ghosn, also CEO of the French carmaker Renault SA, said the company will establish a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor before 2016 to restart production in China.
Renault began producing vehicles in China in 1994. However, production came to a standstill around 2000 due to sluggish sales.
Renault’s Chinese operations said earlier this year that the carmaker aims to double its exports to China this year from 14,700 vehicles in 2010.
Ghosn also said on Monday that there’s no “final decision” yet to produce cars of Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand in China.
A month ago, he said in an interview in Japan that China and North America are the two “main contenders” as possible locations for a plant to produce Infiniti cars, which are now only assembled in Japan.
Ghosn said he expects Infiniti sales in China to double to 20,000 units this year from 2010.
Infiniti’s Chinese business unit announced last year that it plans to increase the number of its dealerships in the country to 100 within the next three years. It has 29 dealerships in the country at present.
Analysts said local production is a must for Infiniti if it wants to be a major player in China’s luxury car segment, which is now dominated by three German automakers – Audi AG, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Mercedes-Benz, a unit of Daimler AG. All three have plants in China.
Source: China Daily