Nissan keen on local plant

Nissan keen on local plant

First manufacturing hub outside of Japan

Nissan March eco-cars, one of three models, are being shipped abroad, mainly to Japan, from Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Nissan March eco-cars, one of three models, are being shipped abroad, mainly to Japan, from Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Thailand has been chosen as the first manufacturing hub outside Japan for Nissan's electric vehicles, says the regional executive for Nissan in Asia and Oceania.

Senior vice-president Yutaka Sanada said the Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co plans to make Thailand its production hub for EVs to serve the local market and overseas shipments.

"Nissan will accelerate our EV output from here," said Mr Sanada.

In committing to this plan, Nissan was granted privileges by the Board of Investment (BoI) on July 25 to make hybrid EVs based on its e-Power technology and batteries at its plant in Samut Prakan, with an investment worth 10.96 billion baht.

He said Nissan is working to implement the plan after winning BoI incentives, but the company cannot disclose more details about models or time frame.

"We will announce our e-Power plan very soon," said Mr Sanada.

Antoine Barthes, president of local unit Nissan Motor Thailand, said the automaker is working with the BoI on an application for full EVs to be assembled at the Thai manufacturing site.

He said Nissan has a clear-cut plan to introduce EVs in the Thai market as soon as possible, as it has plenty of cars to serve the local market, including those with internal combustion engines, eco-cars, e-Power cars and Leaf EVs.

"After we launched the Leaf EV locally last November, we received a great response from Thai buyers," said Mr Barthes.

He said Thailand's support policy promotes local EV manufacturing, but after that sector develops, demand incentives are needed.

"EV buyers should receive both financial and non-financial privileges such as cash subsidies, free parking lots or the ability to drive in bus lanes, similar to Norway, one developed country that has seen success in pushing EV demand," said Mr Barthes.

In a related development, Nissan recently reached the 1 million vehicle export total from Thailand.

In 2018, Nissan was the fifth largest car exporter, with completely built-up units of 82,922 from January to November, following Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda and Ford. The Philippines, Australia and Japan were the top three export destinations by volume for Nissan in Thailand last year.

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