May 03, 2013 00:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Japanese auto-maker Nissan will enter the natural-gas car market with the introduction of a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) model later this year.
Nissan Motor (Thailand) president Takayuki Kimura said the company will launch three new models during the remaining period this year, and one of them will be CNG-compatible.
He said Nissan is also revving up its R&D activities in the region. The Nissan Technical Centre South East Asia will raise the number of employees to 370 by 2016 and Nissan is aiming at 100-per-cent localisation for first-tier suppliers as well as 90 per cent for second-tier suppliers, both in 2015.
“B-cars contain very high local content so we want to have more upstream R&D here,” he told reporters.
Nissan has been highly successful in the eco-car segment, with the March and Almera combining to become the top sellers.
Nissan is investing Bt11 billion to build a new pickup truck plant near its existing passenger car plant in Samut Prakarn.
The new plant will give Nissan a total production capacity of 370,000 vehicles (220,000 passenger cars and 150,000 pickup trucks) in Thailand to supply to both domestic and export markets.
The new plant will have a test course that is tailored for R&D rather than for quality inspection as in the existing plant, Kimura said.
Nissan also plans to increase the number of dealers from the current 183 to 210 by the end of this year, he added.