Nissan to build 'Chinese' plug-in car in China for 2015

Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn announced today that the company will build an all-electric vehicle in China for the Chinese market with its joint venture partner Nissan-Dongfeng.

The plug-in is due by 2015 and will share many components from Nissan’s LEAF, but will be an entirely new “Chinese” vehicle selling under the Venucia brand name.

According to Reuters, the announcement in China came as part of the largest Asian automaker in China’s plans to invest 50 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) by the end of 2015, as it accelerates its expansion in the world’s largest auto market.

“We see a clear need for cars that are affordable, practical, spacious and zero emission. Nissan is clearly the global leader in zero emission mobility, now with more than 10,100 electric Nissan LEAF vehicles already sold worldwide,” said Ghosn of the pending EV. “We are fully prepared to follow the Chinese government direction to promote the adoption of zero emission vehicles. We are ready to produce electric cars locally in China under the Venucia brand.”

The “Chinese government direction” by the way also happens to include a policy of strongly encouraging established industrial companies to “partner” with Chinese industry as a condition for access to markets.

“Foreign carmakers wishing to build new plants or add capacity in China’s burgeoning car market are being told by the government that if they wish to expand, they must develop a low-cost local car brand,” wrote the Financial Times earlier this year.

As it is, Nissan-Dongfeng’s first Venucia petrol-powered car is slated for 2012, with the EV following a few years after, as mentioned.

According to the Truth About Cars,
others have reported that a pending Chinese EV subsidy policy likely greased the tracks in favor of the deal Ghosn and company cut.

Under rules yet to be finalized, it appears probable that the imported-from-Japan LEAF would not qualify, but a made-in-China Venucia would.

It is believed at this point that as long as the vehicle is “Chinese” that will suffice even if (or especially if) the technology comes from another country.

The pivotal part of the deal is the intellectual property will be owned by the Chinese joint venture.

This is key, considering the fact that, as Ghosn said, the Dongfeng parent company that Nissan is partnered with has “solid relationships with China’s central and local governments.”

This is a euphemistic way of saying it is owned by the Chinese government.

As many already know, this is a condition of doing business in China. The country with a population of 1.3 billion represents a marketing goldmine and the government is eager to trade access for industrial knowhow. Is it win-win? We will leave that for the pundits to decide.

And in the mean time, if the smile on Ghosn’s face and his enthusiastic words are any indicator, it is pretty certain Nissan thinks it is.

All told, Nissan-Dongfeng intends to be selling 2.3 million vehicles per year by 2015, compared to 1.3 million units last year.

“We used to be extremely dependent on one market … The development of the Chinese market for us is making Nissan less dependent on one region, or one country, or one market,” Ghosn said. “We have no restriction, no limit; whatever we are ready to do worldwide, we will do it in China.”

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  • Anonymous

    So Nissan sold 10,100 Leaf EVs. Thats a small good acheivement.
    Hope they hit the 100,000 mark soon.

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  • StevenCarGuy

    I think China will be very good for Nissan. I’ve never heard of Venucia before. 1.3 billion+ should very tempting to all auto manufacturers.

    I’m really surprised I haven’t heard much about other car companies devoting more resources to China. We all know they consume car games by the hundreds of thousands, but I think they will be even bigger consumers of electric vehicles in the next 5 – 10 years.


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