Renault will build new Nissan hatchback in France, report says
PARIS -- Nissan plans to build a new compact hatchback at one of alliance partner Renault's French factories, a report said.
Nissan could announce the plan as early as next week, Les Echos said. The car would be built at Renault's Flins or Douai site for sale in Europe. Nissan would produce 80,000 units of the car per year, the paper said.
Nissan has previously said it will launch a mainstream compact hatchback in Europe in 2014. The car would be a successor to the Almera that Nissan stopped selling in western Europe in 2006.
Originally, the automaker planned to build the compact at its factory in Sunderland, England, but last month Nissan said it will produce a premium compact for Infiniti at the UK plant instead starting in 2015. At the time, Nissan said its volume compact hatchback would now be built elsewhere and the production location would be announced at a later date.
Nissan hopes the compact will boost the automaker's growth in Europe and help it achieve its aim of surpassing Toyota as the region's No. 1 Asian brand by unit sales. The compact would bring more fleet customers to the brand. The automaker's current compact model, the Qashqai, is a hit with private buyers.
Renault told unions earlier this week that it could produce an extra 80,000 vehicles a year at its domestic factories for partners Nissan or Daimler if workers agreed to a new labor deal.
Renault's domestic plants are among the worst-affected by car industry overcapacity, which has swollen as many European countries have gone into recession.
The Flins site currently produces the new Clio and the Zoe electric vehicle. The Douai plant, meanwhile, is suffering from the decline in sales of Renault's Scenic model but is due to receive the carmaker's future mid and high-end ranges.
This would be the first time that Nissan produced cars in France, although it already builds vans there.
The French government, Renault's biggest shareholder, which holds a 15 percent stake, has said it wants Renault to support domestic employment by building cars for Nissan, its 43.4-owned Japanese affiliate.
Reuters contributed to this report