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Business

Nissan eyes entry in small car segment

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) sees opportunity in introducing an entry in the small car segment given the rising demand for such vehicles here.

Given the popularity of small cars here, NPI president and managing director Antonio Zara told reporters the company may have to study having an entry in that segment.

“That is definitely an opportunity we need to study. It is a growing segment. We were discussing Philippine industry going into motorization and there will be a lot of people moving from used cars to new cars…a lot of growth in the provinces. An affordable small car will be attractive and that will be a growing segment,” he observed.

While NPI currently does not have an offering in the small car segment, Nissan sells small cars such as the Versa Note and Micra in other countries.

The market for small cars has been on the rise in the country.

Companies which currently have offerings in the small car segment here include Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (Mirage), Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (Wigo), Ford Motor Co. Philippines (Fiesta) and Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (i10).

Given the growing demand for vehicles in the country, Zara said the company may also consider bringing the Datsun brand here.

“It is an opportunity that we will need to study in due time. We are closely watching developments in Indonesia,” he said.

Datsun, a brand owned by Nissan Motor Co. was phased out in the 1980s but revived last year to offer affordable vehicles in emerging markets.

Aside from Indonesia, the Datsun brand has been launched in India and Russia.

Zara said NPI, which is currently selling around 600 to 650 units per month, wants to see an increase in sales to contribute to Nissan Motor Co’s goal of having a 15 percent market share in Southeast Asia.

At present, NPI sells the following vehicle models: Almera, Altima, Sylphy, Navara, Urvan, Patrol Royale, Patrol Super Safari, Murano, Grand Livina, and X-trail.

The firm is set to launch the new X-trail during the 5th Philippine International Motor Show to be held later this month.

Aside from growing its sales, NPI is also committed to continue its manufacturing operations.

While the automotive industry roadmap has yet to be released, Zara said the company wants to take advantage of opportunities that may be available as NPI’s manufacturing facility in Sta. Rosa in Laguna is not fully utilized.

“(Utilization is) less than 50 percent. If we can find a project that is viable, we do have capacity there,” he said.

NPI currently assembles the Almera, Urvan, Navara and Patrol.

ALMERA

ANTONIO ZARA

FORD MOTOR CO

GRAND LIVINA

HYUNDAI ASIA RESOURCES INC

INDIA AND RUSSIA

MITSUBISHI MOTORS PHILIPPINES CORP

NISSAN MOTOR CO

NPI

ZARA

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