* To invest 130 mln euros to produce new family compact
* Will produce 80,000 units per year
* Will create 1,000 direct jobs
* Other carmakers increasing investment in Spain
(Adds detail on car, additional quotes, export detail)
By Blanca Rodríguez
MADRID, Feb 4 Japanese group Nissan Motor
is to invest 130 million euros ($178 million) at its
factory in Barcelona to make a new model, the latest sign of
returning confidence in Spain's competitiveness.
While Europe's car market has been suffering in the downturn
- sales fell to a 17-year low in 2012 and latest data showed
little hope for a recovery anytime soon, Nissan hopes to benefit
from a recent deal with unions on wage cuts.
"This good news ... is a result of the competitiveness
agreement we reached last week and that we had already said
would open doors to new opportunities," Frank Torres, director
general of Nissan Motor Iberica, said on Monday.
Nissan will make 80,000 of a new compact family car per year
at the Barcelona plant, creating 1,000 direct jobs and 3,000
The government has said recent investment by automakers was
a sign that labour market reform, which gave firms more power to
hire and fire workers and greater wage-negotiation flexibility,
has made doing business in Spain more attractive.
In January, Volkswagen became the third car
maker in recent months to increase production in Spain.
Nissan also said it would produce 24,000 of its 1tn Pick Up
model a year in Barcelona, as well as gearboxes for its electric
LEAF and eNV200 models. These projects will receive 20 million
euros of the 130 million Nissan is investing in the plant.
The company exports 80 percent of the cars made in
Barcelona. This shields it from a lagging Spanish market, where
car sales have plummeted as a result of high unemployment, low
consumer confidence and economic uncertainty.
"In coming years, the Barcelona plant will work at full
capacity, with annual production of over 200,000 units ...
Taking into account the current crisis, this is not just an
achievement for Nissan but for industry in Spain," Torres said.
In Spain, the government has introduced a car subsidy
programme to bolster the market, which remains depressed in a
drawn-out recession. Spanish manufacturing activity declined for
the 21st straight month in January, but at the slowest pace
since June 2011 thanks to increased overseas business, data
Nissan employs 4,700 people in Spain, at three production
plants. The company said it would stop producing industrial
vehicles and 4x4s at Barcelona because sales have been hit by
the ongoing euro zone debt crisis.
Spain's unemployment rate hit 26 percent in the fourth
quarter of 2012.
($1 = 0.7301 euro)
(Additional reporting and writing by Clare Kane)