SOURCE: Automotive NewsNissan to supply Europe from Mexico
Lindsay Chappell | Automotive News / April 9, 2007 - 2:19 pm
NASHVILLE -- Nissan Motor Co. will begin using its Mexican operations to supply cars to 18 European countries.
The automaker today began loading its first shipment of Tiida cars -- which sell in the United States as the entry-level Versa -- from its factory in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
The company will export 12,000 Tiidas to Europe this year. It expects to increase the number to 30,000 annually.
Almost all of Nissan's European sales currently come from two European plants, one in Spain and one in England. Cuernavaca will now supply the Tiida to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
Mexico has long been a leading low-cost production center, but it is rarely used for exports outside of this hemisphere. Volkswagen AG exports to Europe from a factory in Puebla, Mexico.
Mexican auto plants have mostly supplied the local retail market, plus the United States and Canada. In some cases, Mexico-built vehicles also have been exported to other markets in Central or South America.
Nissan has invested more aggressively in Mexico than other Japanese automakers. Last year, the company opened an $800 million expansion of an old plant in Aguascalientes to supply North America with both the Versa and a new-generation Sentra.
The company additionally overhauled and expanded the Cuernavaca plant to transform it into an export base.
Nissan now can produce 550,000 vehicles a year at the two plants - more than twice the volume of its 2006 Mexican sales. The company ranked second behind General Motors in the Mexican market last year, with total sales of 228,315 cars and trucks.