GUANGZHOU – Dongfeng-Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co., Ltd. will launch its first two SUVs, the Qashqai and X-Trail, in China next year. The Qashiqai, which was newly released in the European market in March, will be first to hit the Chinese market.
Dongfeng-Nissan will launch six brand new models next year, according to some insiders.
Two SUVs on the way
Both models are positioned as urban SUVs yet targeting different markets and priced accordingly. And both SUVs will be renamed when they enter the Chinese market.
The Qashiqai will make its debut at the Guangzhou auto show later this year. It is expected to hit the market next February or March with a price tag of approximately ¥150,000 ($19,737).
The Qashiqai models are equipped with four types of engines in overseas markets: 1.6L gasoline, 2.0L gasoline 1.5L diesel and 2.0L diesel, accompanied by five/four-gear MT, six-gear AT and CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) respectively. Yet they will be powered by 2.0L and 2.5L gasoline engines when it is produced in China.
The X-Trail will hit Chinese market in the second half of 2008 with a price tag of approximately ¥250,000. The China-made X-Trail will be based on its second generation version, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show this year. The China-made X-Trail will be powered by 2.5L gasoline engine.
As Dongfeng-Nissa’s current product line-up still includes no 2.5L engines, both SUVs will be powered by imported engines.
The Qashiqai has been on the European market since February, with sales of 4,500 units up to June. Due to the current insufficient output capacity, the vehicle will be delivered about six months after customers place the order. Thus Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced on July 25 that it will change plans and make 2,000 additional units in its Kyushu plant located in southern Japan.
Six new models for 2008
Dongfeng-Nissan will probably unveil six brand new models next year. Apart from the two SUVs, it will introduce in a new version of the Teana and a sporty Livina. Besides these, Nissa’s Maxima and Murano are also likely to be imported to China.
The Maxima is one of Nissa’s mid-high-end vehicles in the North American market. Designed on the basis of the Teana, it differs little from the Teana on the outside yet is more spacious inside. If Maxima production is localized in China, it will be positioned above the Teana yet below the Fuga. The Chinese version will be more spacious and be equipped with 2.5L/3.0L engines instead of the 3.5L engines widely adopted overseas.
Heated debates have been ignited over producing Maximas in China. So far, Dongfeng-Nissan has never produced any models higher-priced than Teana (not even the Teana Yu series), to avoid direct confrontation with imported high-end vehicles like Fuga, Cima. Thus overall Dongfeng-Nissan market positioning will hold the key to Maxima’s future in China. Direct confrontations with higher-end models could put Maxima in an unfavorable situation.
Dongfeng-Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co., Ltd. was established on June 16, 2003, as a joint venture between Dongfeng Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. It currently owns two assembly plants located in Huadu, Guangdong Province and Xiangfan, Hubei province, with combined output capacity of 250,000 units. In the first six months of this year, Dongfeng-Nissan sold over 120,314 vehicles, up 21.25 percent year-on-year, with total sales of ¥128,168, up 29.16 percent over the same period last year, according to CBU-Autostats.