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Nissan looks to India for Micra

Made in India: Nissan could start importing the Micra light car from India instead of Indonesia in the near future.

Micra production may relocate to India as Nissan Australia chases more light sales

Nissan logo27 Aug 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

INDIA could take over from Indonesia as the source of the Nissan Micra within 18 months.

The change of manufacturing to a massive site in Chennai is expected to occur at facelift time during 2013, as the company seeks to secure greater volume for its popular light car.

It is also believed that a product repositioning may be part of a new strategy with the long-running series, as Nissan redoubles its efforts in the B segment.

Nissan may price the Micra more aggressively in the sub-$13,000 reaches against the Suzuki Alto and Holden Barina Spark, with speculation that its Honda Jazz-shaped Note and wildly successful Juke sub-compact SUV/crossover might make their way to Australia to take on the upper reaches of the light-car class against the likes of the Suzuki Swift and upcoming Ford EcoSport respectively.

The Juke is produced in Indonesia as well as in Japan and the United Kingdom, so Nissan Australia may yet keep the Indonesian supply lines open for the baby SUV.

Nissan Australia CEO Bill Peffer said that meeting demand with the right product sometimes means having the flexibility to take vehicles from different sources.

12 center imageFrom top: Nissan Note and Juke Renault Pulse.

It appears that the Purwakarta facility in Indonesia has struggled to provide the right numbers and/or model mix for Australia, where the light cars account for more than one in eight sales.

“It’s a matter of where we must source the product to hit the sales points and share plans that we have,” he said.

“If (the change to India) did (occur), it would be within the next 12 to 18 months.”

Less than a year ago, Nissan Australia switched sourcing the existing K13 Micra from Thailand – where the factory struggled to keep up with orders throughout South East Asia – to Indonesia.

At the time, then-CEO Dan Thompson said the manufacturing change to Indonesia was vital to Nissan’s sales aspirations for Micra, saying it was part of an “ongoing saga of capacity constraints out of Thailand”.

Mr Peffer would not elaborate on what changes would accompany the shift to India.

“Nissan Australia is one of the most complicated – if not the most complicated – national sales companies for Nissan around the world in terms of where we pull product from,” he said.

“Pathfinder will come out of the US (currently it originates from Spain). We pull from Thailand. There’s product out of Japan. Micra will be out of India potentially. There’s the UK and Spain – Dualis and Navara.

“We will pull cars from wherever it makes sense to do so. That’s one of the competitor advantages (we have).”

India currently supplies the Micra for many parts of the world, including Europe, with engines including the existing 56kW/100Nm 1.2 three-cylinder and 75kW/136Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder units offered in Australia, as well as a 72kW/143Nm 1.2-litre supercharged three-cylinder and 47kW/160Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

Australia has received Micra from four diverse sources since the first UK-built K11 model from 1995 to 1997.

The Japanese-built K12 re-established the nameplate here from 2007 to 2010, before the K13 came out of Thailand and then Indonesia.

Earlier this year, Renault introduced its own version of the Indian-built Micra for developing nations, known as the Pulse. Along with different badges, the French-branded K13 gained new nose and tail treatments, perhaps indicating the changes we can expect from the facelifted Nissan next year.

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