UPDATE 1-Nissan, Dongfeng plan $785 mln China plant - source
By Fang Yan and Ken Wills
BEIJING, June 14 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co, the largest Japanese automaker in China, plans a more than 5 billion yuan ($785 million) plant in northeastern China, a person with knowledge of the plan told Reuters, as it ramps up in the world's largest auto market.
The plant, in Dalian city, is part of a scheme by Nissan to invest 30 billion yuan in China by the end of 2015, racing against General Motors and other global automakers which are also looking to China for growth as more developed markets stutter.
"Nissan has a more diversified portfolio in China and has put out more offerings than many of its rivals already. It could bring more of the latest models into China and further expand its appeal with this new plant," said John Zeng, Asia Pacific director of industry consultancy LMC Automotive.
The Dalian facility, jointly-owned by Nissan and its local partner Dongfeng Motor Group Co, will have an initial capacity of 25,000 cars when it begins production in 2014, the source told Reuters. Capacity would be phased up to 120,000 by 2015 and 240,000 by 2017.
"They will be making Nissan's more upscale SUVs, sedans and MPVs in the new plant. A ground-breaking ceremony has been planned for later this month," the person said.
Executives at the joint venture could not immediately be reached for comment.
China is already the largest market for Nissan even though it arrived much later than GM and Volkswagen.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled an ambitious target last July to boost China sales to 2.3 million vehicles in 2015, part of its mid-term business plan to raise the company's global market share and profit margin to 8 percent in six years.
To reach that growth target, Nissan's China venture plans to launch about 30 new products during the period, including an electric vehicle under the joint-venture brand name Venucia, said Ghosn.
Nissan sold 1.25 million vehicles in China last year, up 21.9 percent from a year earlier, twice as many as Honda Motor , which saw its sales dip 4.5 percent. Toyota Motor delivered 883,000 cars in China last year, down 4.4 percent.
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