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Nissan Mulls More Exports From India

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Japanese car giant Nissan is looking to utilise its Indian production facility to export vehicles to more markets like the Middle East as overseas sales from its Thailand manufacturing base have come to a standstill in the wake of devastating floods in the nation.

"... We are studying to utilise capacities in India to export to other countries like the Middle East. There is a possibility of that," Nissan Motor Co Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show here.

The company is currently recovering from the impact of the devastating floods in Thailand, he said, but added that there was no scope for augmenting exports based on existing capacity at Thailand.

"... Besides, our capacity in Thailand is full. Now there is no room to export from Thailand," Shiga said.

The company has a joint manufacturing facility with its global partner Renault in Chennai, with an annual production capacity of two lakh units. The two firms had committed an investment of Rs 4,500 crore on construction of the plant, which will have a capacity to roll out four lakh units per annum.

"We have a big plant in Chennai... We are exporting a lot. With small car Micra, we will expand to more countries like the Middle East," Shiga said.

He also said if India can provide competitive advantages in terms of suppliers and labour costs, then the country can export to many other locations.

"Now Japan is losing its competitiveness, we are losing production volume in Japan. So we are shifting more to the growing markets like India," he added.

The company will continue to invest in India in different areas, including manufacturing activity and strengthening its R&D centre in Chennai.

"We have R&D centres in the US and China, but one of the very strong candidates for research activities and product development is India," Shiga said.

The company is considering the launch of more small cars in future, besides developing light commercial vehicles and luxury cars, he added.

On alternate fuel-based transportation, he said the company plans to introduce more models in future, which will be rolled out in India as well. In this regard, the company is exploring the possibility of introducing electric vehicles in India in the future.

"There is no doubt that we have to expand electric vehicles in the world. We will surely launch electric vehicles in India, but I cannot tell when and how many units," Nissan Motor Co Senior Vice-President Minoru Shinohara said.

The company is currently developing electric vehicles for global markets in partnership with Germany auto giant Daimler.

By 2016, Nissan plans to sell 1.5 million electrical vehicles.

It has so far sold 20,000 units.

Nissan showcased concept models of its electric cars Pivo 3, Leaf and Townpod at the Motor Show. It also showcased a concept of premium sports utility vehicle Juke Nismo.

Talking about currency fluctuation and the impact on Nissan's Indian operations, Shiga said: "The problem is exporting Micra from India... because of weak euro, we are suffering. It is difficult because of the volatility of the currency."

The company is trying to localise component sourcing under its Indian operations as much possible to reduce parts imports, he added.

"This is good because even though the rupee is down, the impact is less. However, currency volatility is very difficult," Shiga said.


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