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Nissan showcases March and Leaf in Beijing

BEIJING – Nissan, Infiniti and Dongfeng-Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co., Ltd., a 50:50 joint venture between Nissan and China’s Dongfeng Motor Group, displayed the Leaf electric vehicle, March compact car and NV200 LCV along with other locally made and imported models on a 2,000-square-meter stage at Auto China 2010. Also on the Nissan booth were the Teana, X-Trail, Qashiqai, Sylphy, Tiida, Livina and the Nissan GTR.

The March compact car and the Leaf EV stole the limelight of the show. Ren Yong, vice general manager of Dongfeng-Nissan, announced on April 23 that the March will hit national market in the second half of 2010, carrying a price tag of ¥70,000-¥100,000 ($10,294-$14,706). The company started taking orders for the compact model from April 23, opening day of the auto show.

Ren claimed that the March is Dongfeng-Nissa’s first attempt to tap the Chinese compact family car market and the company aims to build it into a leading player in that segment.

The March is one of Nissa’s best sellers around the global market. The first generation of the March was launched in Japan in 1982, and the second and third came out in 1992 and 2002 respectively. Accumulative sales of the compact car amounted to 5.65 million units as of 2009.

China has climbed to the No. 2 major market only after the U.S. in Nissa’s global blueprint. The Chinese market-tailored March will be powered by a 1.5L engine and equipped with e-helper and parking navigation.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance, announced in Beijing on March 23 that Nissan plans to boost annual production at its China facilities from 535,000 units by 70 percent to 900,000 units by the end of 2012.

Nissan delivered a total of 756,000 vehicles in the Chinese market in 2009. According to Ghosn, the company has set a sales goal of 850,000 units for 2010, to be up 12 percent year-on-year. The Japanese automaker also eyes expanding its dealerships in China from the existing number of 391 to 450 to help boost its share of the Chinese market from 6.5 to 10 percent in the next few years.

Ghson also added that Nissan will start local production of the Leaf EV in China if the Chinese government offers subsidy for purchase of EVs.

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