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Nissan casting plant 'galloping' along

Bullish: Nissan's Dandenong casting plant was not considered for making the Navara's ANCAP five-star bullbars, with alloy component manufacture a higher priority.

NCAP accessory production could be dropped to accommodate more casting contracts

Nissan logo20 Nov 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

NISSAN'S local casting plant continues to buck the downward trend of Australian automotive manufacturing, with increasing production and new clients that safeguard the future of the facility well into the next decade.

While other major suppliers are contemplating their future when local manufacturing of mainstream cars ceases in 2017, the Nissan Casting Australia Plant (NCAP) continues to win new business.

Nissan's new Navara uses a gearbox casing produced at the plant and speaking at the launch of some new variants for the workhorse range, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said the future of the factory was safe for the foreseeable future.

Mr Emery was unable to reveal details of the recently acquired contracts but explained that, in the case of one partner, the flexibility of the factory had allowed Nissan to jump into another supplier's place.

“We have just won a particular piece of business that hasn’t been announced yet globally,” he said. “We came riding over the mountain to save them because their original supplier for this particular project chose to pull out at the last minute.

“We had to turn the project around in half the time. That’s why we have an advantage at NCAP. We are small, flexible and can change our business model really quickly, more quickly than some other suppliers.

“That’s why we have been successful. NCAP is looking good. It’s pretty solid into the first half of the next decade.”

With continued demand for parts worldwide and the new contracts made at the Australian site, Mr Emery said the future was bright for the factory.

“A couple of them are secret because they are for future products that haven’t been announced yet, but even our existing Leaf business, X-Trail and some of the other SUVs that are sold around the world, that business is booming for Nissan.

“The demand for SUV componentry continues to grow and beyond our original contract structures, so that’s why we are working at full bore on those things.

“We are really excited about where NCAP is at. We have solid business going out certainly into the next decade.”

In addition to the cast components, the facility in Dandenong, in Melbourne's south-east, also has the ability to produce welded components such as the Navara towbar, but Mr Emery explained that expanding the line of accessories made at the facility was not a possibility.

Instead of gearing up to make the Navara's ANCAP-praised bullbars, Mr Emery said existing towbar fabrication could be moved elsewhere in favour of increasing casting contracts.

“First and foremost, it was designed to be a casting plant for original equipment. It was never to be an accessory business and it just happened that, in a little down-cycle, we found ourselves the opportunity to take the tow bar business inside.

“The casting business is galloping along at such a rate that we don’t have the capacity to expand the accessory package.

“There might be a consideration to loose the tow bar business so that we could expand (casting) into that part of the factory. We have such a strong, robust casting business so that is the priority.”

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