Nissan Will Enter Light Commercial Market in US
By Brendan Moore
The company already has a robust network of light commercial vehicle operations in Japan, China and Europe that represent considerable amounts of Nissan’s sales revenue and profitability, Andy Palmer, head of Nissan’s global light commercial-vehicle business said in a statement.
Joe Castelli, previously with Ford Motor Co. in the capacity of commercial trucks director, will spearhead Nissan’s new business venture in North America. Nissan sells light commercial vehicles, which usually are work vehicles that weigh less than eight tons, in 73% of the world’s markets, but doesn’t currently sell them in North America. Nissan’s light commercial vehicle business unit retailed over 518,000 units globally in 2007, up from 490,000 in 2006.
Nissan said there are 1.5 million commercial van and truck sales in the United States every year and they are obviously aiming to get a piece of that pie. General Motors Corp. and Ford are the market leaders in the commercial vehicle business in the U.S.
In a statement that some might say was a recitation of the obvious, Palmer said, “We already have major operations in Japan, China and Europe and so it is natural that we are now ready to expand our business in North America. Any vehicle we sell here will be a conquest.”
The current plan is for the Canton, MS plant that currently produces the Nissan Quest minivan and the Infiniti QX56, to halt that production and to start producing three new light commercial trucks by 2010. Nissan envisions the Canton plant as the main plant for commercial vehicle production in North America. The company plans to pour $118 million USD into the plant for the expansion, but made a point of saying that the $118 million did not include the expected costs of tooling and development.
Nissan also said it signed partnerships with Cummins Inc. for diesel engines and ZF Friedrichshafen AG for the transmissions slotted for the new vehicles. Two different Cummins diesel engines, developed specifically for Nissan’s new commercial vehicles and able to meet future U.S. emissions requirements for this class of vehicle will be produced in the U.S., according to Nissan.
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