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Nissan set to get into accessory business

Accessory plans: Nissan Australia may make a range of aluminium bars for its commercial range at its Dandenong casting plant.

Aluminium accessories next on list of manufacturing projects for Nissan Australia

Nissan logo17 Mar 2011

NISSAN Australia is proposing to become the first subsidiary of the Japanese company in the world to make some of its own key motor vehicle accessories.

The company is mulling a plan to make a range of aluminium items such tow bars, nudge bars and ute sports bars for vehicles such as the Navara, Pathfinder, Patrol and X-Trail in an area of the Nissan Casting Plant at Dandenong, Victoria, to be sold through Nissan dealers across Australia.

Traditionally, the factory’s fare has been restricted to original-equipment cast aluminium components such as transmission cases, oil pans and gear carrier assemblies, mostly destined for Nissan factories in Japan, Thailand, Mexico and the United States.

This week, Nissan announced that the plant had won a major contract within Nissan to supply cast aluminium parts for Nissan’s most advanced model, the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The three parts will be exported at the rate of up to 22,000 pieces a month to Nissan assembly plants overseas from early next year.

As well, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson revealed that his company was planning to branch out into accessories, at this stage just for the local market.

He said that traditionally, Nissan in Australia and elsewhere had taken all of its accessories from outside suppliers, but that with the casting plant’s considerable experience with aluminium, it had been decided to bring at least some of the accessories in-house.

 center imageLeft: Existing nudge bar currently offered on the D22 Navara.

It was proposed that an area of the plant not currently needed for the casting business would be cleared and new equipment such as pipe-bending machines installed to fashion the new accessories.

Mr Thompson said that while the accessory operation might one day generate potential export business, he said the main focus was on getting the operation up and running well for Australian consumers.

“In two years or so we might make a call on external markets,” he said.

Mr Thompson said Australia was ideal for such an operation as it had one of the biggest appetites for accessories in the world, with buyers of LCVs and SUVs invariable ticking the boxes for a range of extras.

“Our model mix lends itself to accessories,” he said.

Mr Thompson said Australia was a “very mature market” for such items, compared with parts of Asia such as Thailand.

The accessory manufacturing plant is still to be formally announced, with timing yet to be locked in. However, preliminary planning is well underway.

The casting plant came close to being closed due to a lack of viable business last year. It currently has a staff of 145, down from more than 200 before the global financial crisis.

Projects such as the Nissan Leaf components and the proposed accessory manufacturing operation are expected to secure the future of the facility for at least five years.

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