As part of its strategy to make India a global hub for a range of automobiles, Japan's Nissan Motor will export 20 percent of its proposed mini-vans to be produced by its Indian joint venture with Ashok Leyland.
"We will launch the passenger-carrying vehicle, or the mini-van if you prefer, some time next year. We will produce around 55,000 units. We wish to export 20 percent of this to nearby markets," Nissan's executive vice president Andy Palmer said.
Palmer, however, explained to IANS in an interview that since their 51:49 joint venture, named Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles, does not have dedicated factory of their own yet, these will be produced at the unit of another joint venture Renault-Nissan Automotive.
This manufacturing facility is located on the outskirts of Chennai at Oragadam, where the Micra cars roll out. "Eventually, when our Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles unit come up in around two years, the mini-vans will roll out of there," Palmer said.
According to the top Nissan executive, "Dost" was the first manifestation of the joint venture with Chennai-based Ashok Leyland and that on their own, the Japanese firm could not have engineered the product at that cost.
"Dost" is the name given to the 1.25-tonne goods carrier that will be sold by Ashok Leyland through its own network.
"Nissan brought to the table its global knowledge, manufacturing experience and quality parameters. A lot of Japanese production processes are implemented in the joint venture. Thus, our two teams worked together for component sourcing," he said.
"Our local content will be high for the mini-van also. In the Micra car, for example, local component content is as high as 90 percent."
Palmer, who is also chairman of the Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles, said this venture is for producing light commercial vehicles for goods and passenger use. They have two more ventures here -- one for engines and gear boxes and another for research.
As per their agreement, vehicles resulting from their venture will be independently sold through their own distribution network. The first vehicle, a 1.25 tonne goods carrier, recently rolled out of Ashok Leyland's Hosur factory in Tamil Nadu.
Speaking about Nissan's global strategy for light commercial vehicles, Palmer said the current year will be a record of sorts for the company despite the devastating tsunami in Japan.
"Last year we sold 850,000 units and in two years it will be a million units. By 2016, we will become the largest manufacturer of light commercial vehicles in the world -- along with our alliance partners," Palmer said.
He said after the earthquake and tsunami, component supplies had almost returned to normal for all models. "By October this year, component supplies will reach full normal levels."
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com)