Nissan to transfer Primastar van production to France from Spain

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 12, 2013

Nissan is planning to transfer the assembly of the Primastar van from Spain to France, specifically at Renault's Sandouville plant, according to sources. This means that Nissan’s alliance partner in France will be able to keep its promise to increase domestic output in exchange for union concessions.

The upcoming Primastar variant will be produced in France together with Renault's Trafic and a version of GM's Opel Vivaro, which use the same vehicle platform, sources said. The source also said that the automaker has already decided to withdraw Primastar from Barcelona.

It makes sense that Primastar production will be combined with other alliance commercial vehicles. Moving the Nissan Primastar will be done following the 2014 launch of a new Renault Trafic, which is also being shifted to Sandouville from GM's plant in Luton, England.

The Barcelona plant built only 4,600 Primastars in 2012; however, sales are likely to increase after the 12-year-old model is replaced. So far, no official statements have come from Renault or its 43.4%-owned Japanese affiliate about these production plans.

Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both companies, has made a promise to boost Renault's French output by 100,000 vehicles for its own brand and 80,000 for Nissan and Daimler by 2016, in exchange for wage limits as well as other union concessions. It will take a few more months before an announcement will be made about the plans of Renault’s partners on building vehicles in France.

Renault-Nissan has a 3-year-old partnership agreement with Daimler. As part of this deal, French Renault plants produce diesel engines for Daimler and its Mercedes-Benz Citan delivery van based on Renault's Kangoo.

Jacques Verdonck, the alliance director who handles the cooperation with Daimler, said that Renault's Maubeuge plant is estimated to produce 40,000 Citans in 2013, adding 26,000 vehicles over 2012 output towards Ghosn's goal to build 80,000 units. However, Daimler has said that it is reconsidering tentative plans for a battery-powered Citan coupled with Renault's electric Kangoo.

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