TOKYO -- Nissan plans to begin producing small cars and trucks in Myanmar with its Malaysian partner as early as this year, the Nikkei business daily reported today.
Nissan Motor Co. (IW 1000/31) and Malaysia's Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd will jointly produce several thousand small passenger cars and pickup trucks annually in the Southeast Asian country, the newspaper said without citing sources.
Myanmar has been experiencing sharp growth in demand for cars since it began taking steps toward democracy in 2011, and used Japanese models are especially popular there.
In a bid to tap the market, automakers have begun moving in, with Japan's Suzuki announcing the restart of production there earlier in the year and Ford saying it would open a showroom.
But Nissan would be the biggest carmaker so far to start production in the country, the Nikkei said, where huge import taxes and a U.S. investment ban aimed at the previous regime have made vehicles too expensive for most people.
Car ownership was only around 2.4 million units as of last year in Myanmar. The country has a population of 63 million, so the market has much room to grow.
A Tan Chong affiliate will likely construct an assembly plant that will finish cars using parts shipped from Nissan factories in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
Nissan was not immediately available to confirm the report in Japan, where today is a public holiday.
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia after decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule. But the country has undertaken major economic and social reforms, sparking renewed interest from business abroad.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013