Nissan Going after Chinas Luxury Market

Copyright Harold Cunningham

Getty Images News

Nissan Going after China's Luxury Market

The partnership between Nissan Motor Co. and Dongfeng Motor Corp. aims to raise annual sales of Nissan's luxury brand to 100,000 cars by 2018, more than half of which are to be locally produced.

BEIJING -- Nissan (IW 1000/39) said Monday that it has formed a new joint venture with its Chinese partner Dongfeng to produce Infiniti luxury cars in the world's largest auto market.

The partnership between Nissan Motor Co. and Dongfeng Motor Corp. aims to raise annual sales of Nissan's luxury brand to 100,000 cars by 2018, more than half of which are to be locally produced.

Production will start in November at a plant in Xiangyang in the central province of Hubei, Nissan said, marking the inauguration of Infiniti's third global manufacturing base after Japan's Tochigi prefecture and Tennessee.

Dongfeng, China's second biggest automaker, is controlled by the Chinese state.

In May, the company acquired 14.% of Peugeot Citroen as part of a 3 billion euro (US$3.9 billion) series of capital hikes for the troubled French auto group.

Monday's statement did not provide financial details.

"The establishment of Dongfeng Infiniti will realize the extension of Dongfeng Motor Corp.'s value chain into (the) luxury segment," Xu Ping, chairman of Dongfeng Motor Corp., said.

The new company is an independent wholly-owned subsidiary of Dongfeng Motor Co., a 50-50 joint venture between the Chinese carmaker and Nissan.

"I believe drawing on the valuable experience of the two parties, Dongfeng Infiniti is bound to be a success that will also boost Infiniti's strategy to build a global premium brand," Carlos Ghosn, president of Nissan Motor, said.

China is the most important growth market for Infiniti. The brand sold more than 18,000 vehicles in the country in the first eight months of this year, just over double the sales of the same period in 2013.

Models to be produced in China include two tailored for the national market -- Q50L, a sports sedan, and QX50, a long wheel-based SUV, Nissan said.

Locally produced models will bear the Dongfeng Infiniti mark while imported cars will be sold as Infiniti.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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