A new Nissan compact car will start production at its Barcelona, Spain plant, disappointing French unions who have been hoping that production of this model will be assigned in one of Renault’s plants in France. In a statement last Monday, Nissan said that it will make a 130 million euros ($178 million) investment in the Barcelona plant to raise capacity to assemble 80,000 units of the car annually, with production beginning in 2014.
This investment will generate a thousand direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs. This car will compete with rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. It marks Nissan’s return to the mainstream compact segment in Europe. The company had quit when it halted sales of the Almera in Europe in 2006. This model will be the first car that its Barcelona plant will roll out.
This factory is presently where the Pathfinder SUV and Navara pick-up, and NV200 commercial van are built. In addition, Nissan will spend 14 million euros in Barcelona to make 24,000 units of added annual capacity for the pick-up and 6 million euros to make transmissions for the Leaf electric car eNV200 electric van. Nissan is returning to the European compact segment to help the company achieve its aim of replacing Toyota as the region's No. 1 Asian brand by unit sales.
This compact is expected to attract more fleet buyers to the brand. The Qashqai, which is Nissan’s present compact model, is popular with private buyers. Nissan hasn’t released details about the new compact. However, company executives said that it won’t be named the Almera. Initially, Nissan planned to produce the compact at its Sunderland, England, plant. Instead, Nissan is now planning to produce a premium compact for Infiniti, beginning in 2015.