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By Laurence Frost and Ilona Wissenbach
PARIS/STUTTGART, June 26 Daimler and
Nissan have finalized a joint venture deal to build
future Mercedes and Infiniti compact cars in Mexico, sources
with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday as the automakers
called a news conference to unveil the plans.
The companies are preparing to announce a "substantial
investment" to develop the vehicles on Daimler's front
wheel-drive architecture and assemble them at Nissan's
Aguascalientes site northeast of Guadalajara, the sources said.
The 50-50 venture, first reported by Reuters in March, will
broaden Nissan's premium Infiniti lineup, expand Daimler's North
American production and reinforce the German carmaker's
relationship with the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche and his
Renault-Nissan counterpart Carlos Ghosn will unveil a new
cooperation deal at a 1330 GMT news conference on Friday, both
companies said, declining to comment further. A separate news
conference is to be held in Mexico.
The new manufacturing deal will be the "largest project in
the global collaboration of Daimler and the Renault-Nissan
Alliance", Daimler said.
Mercedes, Nissan and alliance partner Renault have shared
engines, plants and vehicle architectures for small cars and
vans since Zetsche and Ghosn announced a broad-based partnership
in 2010, underpinned by small reciprocal shareholdings.
The compact car plans, set out in a February memorandum of
understanding, will help Infiniti fill a gap at the bottom end
of its range with a new SUV, sedan and coupe sharing parts and
architecture with successors to the Mercedes A- and B-Class, GLA
and CLA, sources have said.
In return, Daimler gets a first North American production
line for its "MFA" vehicle architecture, as well as development
savings and economies of scale - in a vehicle category where it
has struggled in the past with low profitability.
(Additional reporting by Edward Taylor in Frankfurt; Editing by
Jason Neely and Mark Potter)