Nissan will officially open its newest production facility in Aguascalientes, Mexico today as it bids to take advantage of the growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States. Although the site built the first Sentra off its assembly line on Nov. 7, Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn and Mexico President Peña Nieto will declare the $2 billion production facility operational at a public event.
Nissan is planning to ramp the site up quickly and reach full production capacity of 175,000 Sentras annually by the end of March 2014.
Nissan plans to build 1 million cars in Mexico by 2016, thereby fixing the country's position as an export hub for the Japanese carmaker in the Americas, Ghosn told Reuters. Most of the produced vehicles from the site will be shipped by rail to destinations throughout the Americas.
The newest Aguascalientes site, which employs 3,000 people workers and a barrage of yellow production robots, touts of being able to build one car every 38 seconds, in partnership with Nissan's other plant in the area.
Ghosn told Reuters in an interview at the site that Nissan likes Mexico because it allows the carmaker to be competitive.
He noted that being competitive is not just about cost, but also about quality and responsiveness, which he defined as the "capacity to respond to variation of the market very quickly." He remarked that Mexico is becoming the export hub for both North and South America.
Small cars are considered as a vital part of the Nissan group's bid to increase its market share in the US to 10 percent by March 31, 2017, from the current 8 percent.
However, Nissan did not have ample North American factory space and manpower to grab the opportunity presented by the America's ongoing shift to fuel-efficient B- and C-segment small cars. [source: Nissan]