The Hindu Business Line
Nissan’s small car for India, scheduled to roll out in May 2010, will have a small proportion of Chinese parts, which include the headlamp and engine control unit.
In addition, some components for the diesel engine and manual transmission will be imported from Europe.
“Apart from this, most of the parts will be sourced locally. This will also include those for the petrol powertrain,” top company sources told Business Line on the sidelines of a press meet to discuss Nissan’s global V-platform strategy.
China is familiar territory for Nissan contributing to over half a million of its vehicle sales. And even while India has a quality-driven supplier base, China has had a head-start and is particularly competent in the powertrain department.
This will come in handy for the new platform strategy where India, China and Thailand have been identified among the five manufacturing hubs. There will be interchange of components from one region to another and Nissan officials believe it is only a matter of time before India takes the lead here
Till that time, China could still play a more pivotal role largely because of the scale Nissan has achieved in the country over the years. Cars produced in India will be exported to Europe, Africa and West Asia. The fourth hub for the global platform, according to Mr Vincent Cobee, Corporate Vice-President and Program Director, could be “one of the Americas” while the fifth country of manufacture has not been finalised yet. Indications are that Brazil could occupy the fourth slot and Russia the final one given the growing role of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. Nissan is looking at one million units from these five countries though no timeframe has been set as yet.
There will be three cars produced on this platform and India, like Thailand (whose rollout is scheduled in March 2010), will be the launch pad for the compact option.
Indications are that the sedan will be produced in China first, when manufacturing begins in July 2010, though Nissan officials declined to comment on the subject.
The sedan version has been planned for India in 2011, while the third car is expected to be a lot sportier. Nissan has paid a lot of focus on commonality of components between the three cars to keep costs in check.
For instance, the common platform parts on an average are nearly 85 per cent, while in the case of body parts, this is closer to 50 per cent. Mr Noritaka Tsuru, popularly referred to as the ‘Godfather’ of the new platform, said that Nissan had set itself the goal of making the world’s best compact car.
The focus was on optimising costs while keeping weight to the minimum and delivering maximum value in terms of mileage and speed. Internal slogans such as “Simple is smart, smart is cool” and “use your brains, think differently” became the guiding principles.
The net result was new a three-cylinder car which was fast, stable and had achieved a breakthrough in noise and vibration. Costs were trimmed thanks to use of “smart technology” and in markets such as India, the car was actually engineered to suit the raw material available, as was the case with sheet metal.
Mr Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, Chief Vehicle Engineer, said that on an average, 40 per cent reduction had been achieved in the number of parts which had also pulled down costs as a result. Over 100 engineers from India, China and Thailand had been trained for the new platform strategy