BARCELONA, Spain - The Tino compact minivan has rejuvenated Nissan's under-utilized plant here.
Output will increase by 38 percent this year and is scheduled to go higher when the Tino is at full production in 2001. A third shift at the plant will be added late this year.
'Barcelona was operating below capacity, so it was decided to make the Tino there,' said John Cushnaghan, managing director of Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK.
The Tino shares a platform with the new Almera hatchback built at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, England. Sunderland also makes the Micra supermini and upper-medium Primera.
Nissan's Barcelona plant has been dedicated to four-wheel-drive vehicles, minivans and light commercial vehicles since starting production of the first Patrol off-roader in 1983. The Patrol, Terrano II sport-utility, Serena minivan and Vanette Cargo van are currently produced here, in addition to the Tino.
Last year, Nissan built 77,000 units in Barcelona, including 35,000 Terrano IIs, 20,000 Vanette Cargos, 18,500 Serenas and 3,500 Patrols. Production peaked in 1995 at 98,000 vehicles.
This year, output will jump to 106,000 units, including 26,000 Tinos. Production of the Tino is scheduled to reach 50,000 units in 2001 after the third shift - with 300 extra workers Ñ is added.
'Tino eventually will make up about 40 percent of production,' said Jose Luis Samitier, Tino production manager at Nissan Motor Iberica. Samitier said plant capacity on three shifts could reach 145,000 units annually. Daily Tino production would rise to 250 units from 190 on two shifts.
Nissan invested A180 million in Barcelona for the Tino, plus A60 million at the Madrid engine plant that makes the new 2.2-liter direct-injection diesel for both the Almera and the Tino. Part of the investment was used to set up a facility that makes Serena and Tino bumpers, including a paint line.
The Tino shares the body-welding lines of the Terrano and Serena/Vanette Cargo while its floor and other subassemblies are made in a dedicated shop.
Forty-nine robots have been added to the body shop, increasing the automation rate to 70 percent.
The assembly line is just 495 meters long. Line-side storage has been reduced by eliminating a system of raising or lowering the track carrying the vehicle. Instead, individual workstations are raised or lowered.
The plant also uses a system of 92 shuttles that stick to the car and move along with it for a few meters, carrying assembly workers. The shuttle system is widely used in the Sunderland plant.