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People view displayed cars at the showroom of the Nissan headquarters in Yokohama, Japan/XINHUA


Nissan to build new auto plant in Thailand

People view displayed cars at the showroom of the Nissan headquarters in Yokohama, Japan/XINHUA

TOKYO, Nov 2 – Nissan said on Friday it would spend about $358 million to build its second auto assembly plant in Thailand, as it ramps up production away from its costly home base of Japan.

The new plant in Samut Prakan province will be constructed close to Nissan’s existing factory near Bangkok, which employs about 6,000 people.

Nissan’s plant emerged largely unscathed from record flooding last year that dented Japanese firms operating in the country, although it temporarily stopped production due to a parts shortage

Japan’s second-biggest automaker said it would initially build 75,000 vehicles at the new plant, scheduled to open in August 2014, before expanding annual output to 150,000 units, it said.

Nissan made 190,000 vehicles in Thailand last year.

“(It) will not only enable us to raise our competitiveness in the domestic market, but will ensure Thailand’s position as a key strategic global export hub for Nissan,” Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s executive vice president, said in a statement.

The firm has set a goal to more than doubling its share of the Thai vehicle market to 15 percent by fiscal 2016.

In common with many Japanese companies, Nissan is seeking growth in foreign markets to rebalance the ageing and shrinking consumer base at home.

Nissan’s announcement comes as Japanese automakers have cut production in China owing to a sales slump stoked by tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

The months-long flooding disaster late last year took a heavy toll on Thailand’s industrial heartland north of Bangkok, with many factories forced to close temporarily.

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