Nissan Says to Begin Production in Vietnam

Automaker will launch its first model assembled in the country by 2010.

Japanese automaker Nissan said Tuesday it sees "tremendous opportunities" in Vietnam and will begin local production next year, despite the effects of the financial crisis on the industry elsewhere.

Nissan Vietnam Co Ltd. will launch its first model assembled in the country by 2010, the automaker said in a statement.

Manufacturing will be carried out by Vietnam Motors Corp, an existing assembler, under the guidance of engineers from the parent company, it said. Nissan Vietnam will be the distributor.

"Vietnam is a strategic market for Nissan with tremendous opportunities," said Shinya Hannya, Nissan's corporate vice president for Asian markets. "The offering of locally assembled products will accelerate our business in Vietnam and lay the foundation for further growth."

The company did not say which models will initially be produced at the Hanoi factory, or in what quantity.

Nissan Vietnam is a joint venture between Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd. and Denmark's Kjaer Group A/S, an international distributor of vehicles.

The company said Nissan Vietnam began operations in December and has begun importing and distributing Nissan vehicles, parts and accessories through its dealers.

Nissan vehicles have been sold in Vietnam since 2004 through Kjaer Group and its Vietnamese subsidiary, Motorcare Co Ltd, but market share is only about 1% because of high import duties on automobiles, a company official told AFP. "This is the reason why Nissan has decided to start local assembly," she said.

Vietnam's market "is actually not shrinking as much as in most other countries" and is expected to be growing again next year when Nissan launches, she said.

Seventeen automotive producers or assemblers already have operations in Vietnam, including Ford, Honda and Toyota. Their total vehicle sales in May were 8,761, down from 11,494 a year earlier, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

France's Renault has a 44% stake in Nissan Motor, Japan's No. 3 automaker.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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