22 July 2008
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is to invest R1-billion in upgrading Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, outside Pretoria, to increase output and produce the Nissan NP200 pickup and the Renault Sandero for the South African market.
In a statement this week, Nissan says that the upgrade will enable the company to produce right-hand drive versions of the two models, as well as to develop the local components and accessories supply chain.
The plant upgrade will create an additional 300 jobs, while also increasing output from the current rate of 40 000 units per year to 68 000 units per year by 2009, with the new range of vehicles initially being sold only on the local market – though exports are a future possibility.
Production of the Nissan NP200 half-ton pickup, which replaces the highly-successful 1400 Champ, has already started, while production of the Renault Sandero will start in 2009.
Engineering News reported this week that both vehicles are based on the same Logan platform, with the components that are not produced locally being imported from Romania, India (right-hand drive components), Brazil (stamping parts), Turkey and Spain (powertrains).
“Nissan has built up a formidable reputation in the light commercial vehicle segment of the market and the retirement of the legendary 1400 bakkie should not be viewed as the end, but rather the beginning of an era,” said Nissan South Africa MD Mike Whitfield in the company statement, adding that the company was dedicated to sustaining its reputation in the sector.
The Renault Sandero will contribute significantly to Renault’s growth in South Africa, and the company is to expand the product line-up offered to local customers with vehicles ranging from entry-level to upper range.
Among them will be the new Twingo, a small car, and the Koleos, Renault’s first crossover, set for launch in South Africa in 2008.
“[The] Sandero will represent affordable motoring, produced to meet the needs of the South African market and will be the first Renault product manufactured in South Africa,” said Renault South Africa MD Xavier Gobille.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance was created in 1999, with the aim of becoming one of the top three global automakers in terms of quality, technology and profitability, selling over 6.1-million vehicles in 2007.
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