Mon, Sep 10, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Nissan unveils second Venucia low-cost model

AP, BEIJING

Nissan Motor Co has unveiled the second model from its new low-priced Chinese brand Venucia, following what an executive said was a temporary dip in sales during anti-Japanese protests last month.

The compact R50 hatchback will sell for as little as 67,800 yuan (US$10,760), Nissan announced on Saturday. It is part of a wave of new models by Japanese, US and European automakers that are aimed at China’s growing low-priced market outside major cities.

Venucia was created by Nissan and its Chinese joint venture partner, Dongfeng Motor Co (東風汽車). Its first model, the D50 sedan, debuted in April.

China overtook the US as the world’s biggest auto market by vehicles sold in 2009, but sales growth has slowed and some major cities are imposing restrictions on ownership to curb traffic and smog. That has prompted global automakers to look for new ways to tap the faster-growing low end of the Chinese market in smaller cities and the countryside.

General Motors Co also has created a low-priced Chinese brand, Baojun, with a local partner. Germany’s Daimler Benz is developing an electric-car brand with Chinese automaker BYD Co (比亞迪).

The R50 is aimed at first-time Chinese buyers outside prosperous eastern cities, Dongfeng president Kimiyasu Nakamura said. He said that the car goes on sale later this month and that the company expects to sell 10,000 units per month.

Nakamura said Nissan held down the cost by designing the R50 in China and using mostly Chinese-manufactured components.

Nissan suffered a temporary dip in sales when protests erupted in China last month over a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo about ownership of an uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea, Nakamura said. He said he had no details of how sales compared with normal periods.

“We did see some slowdown, but after that we see everything go back as usual,” Nakamura said.

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