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January 16, 2009

Nissan to relocate subcompact production to Thailand
Nissan Motor Co plans to move production of its March subcompact to Thailand from Japan as part of a structural overhaul to cope with falling car demand and a strong yen.

The shift will make Nissan the first Japanese automaker to move production of a top-selling model overseas, the report said, without citing sources, Reuters reported, quoting the Nikkei newspaper.

Nissan, which is widely expected to report an operating loss for the year ending March 31, sells about 47,000 March models a year in the domestic market, the business daily said.

When the vehicle is due for a full remodeling in 2010, Nissan will cease production in Japan and import all units for the domestic market from Thailand, the Nikkei said.

Nissan, Japan's third-biggest automaker, will also shift production of the Micra -- the March for overseas markets -- from the UK to India in 2010, when that vehicle is slated for a full makeover of its own, it said.

As part of the structural shakeup, Nissan will reduce to 48 from 60 the number of new and redesigned models to be introduced over five years starting in the current fiscal year ending March 31, the newspaper said.

Nissan, which is owned 44 percent by Renault SA, also plans to postpone the opening of a plant in Morocco, to be built jointly with Renault, initially scheduled for 2010.

Construction plans for factories in India and Russia will be downsized or delayed, the Nikkei said.

The automaker may also eliminate bonuses for executives for the current fiscal year and intends to sharply reduce their pay for April and afterward, the report said.

Nissan had initially projected that consolidated operating profit for the year to March 31 would fall by about 30 percent to 550 billion yen $6.15 billion), but downgraded the forecast to 270 billion yen in October.

A company source said this week that the company now expects to post an operating loss instead of a profit. The loss would be the first since Carlos Ghosn become CEO in 1999.

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