Nissan sees sales of at least 500,000 NP300 Navara pickups a year

TOKYO, June 11 Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:38pm EDT

TOKYO, June 11 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co is aiming for annual sales of at least 500,000 of its new NP300 Navara pickup truck - or about 10 percent of the Japanese automaker's worldwide sales - once the vehicle goes on sale globally, an executive said on Wednesday.

Thailand, where Nissan unveiled the NP300 Navara on Wednesday, will be the biggest production site of the vehicle, Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said. The pickup truck is set to go on sale in Thailand in July.

While Thailand has seen auto sales decline over the past year after a government subsidy ended in 2012 and amid political crisis, the country will continue to serve as a major exporting hub for Nissan especially in terms of pickup trucks, he said.

"Pickups account for about 40 percent of Thailand's total auto demand," Katagiri told Reuters in a phone interview, speaking from Bangkok. "The importance of Thailand and its position as a supply base will not change."

The Thai pickup market is currently dominated by Nissan's Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corp and Isuzu Motors Ltd , but with the launch of the NP300 Navara, Nissan aims to double its pickup market share to 10 percent or more from the current 5 percent, Katagiri said.

In Thailand, the NP300 Navara will be manufactured at Nissan's new plant, its second in the country, which the automaker aims to start operating in July. The vehicle will also be made at several other locations worldwide, Katagiri said.

He did not say when the NP300 Navara would be on sale globally, nor when Nissan hoped to reach sales of at least 500,000 a year.

Katagiri said Nissan was sticking to a target to boost its total Thai market share to 15 percent over the next few years from 6.5 percent in the year that ended in March. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Mark Potter)

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