Nissan Looking Into Low-Budget Autos For Fast-Growing Markets

Nissan considering targeting markets in emerging economies through alliance with Renault.

TOKYO (AP) – Nissan Motor Co. is considering developing low-budget vehicles targeting fast-growing markets in emerging economies, an official said Friday.

Creating an affordable car through its alliance with its French partner Renault SA, a forerunner of such product, is a possibility, a Nissan spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

Renault launched the no-frills Logan family sedan in 2004 primarily for emerging countries and has sold 400,000 units, more than half of them in 2006 alone, in 51 nations including Russia, Romania and Columbia, Nissan said.

Nissan has been studying the possibility of developing its own version of such vehicles for fast-growing consumers in India, Russia and other emerging economies, including a cooperation with Renault.

No other details about Nissan’s affordable vehicle production plans were available.

Nissan’s move comes as its competitors are also gearing to develop their own affordable models for the developing countries, while growth in the North American and western European markets have slowed.

Also Friday, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said that it is considering an assembly plant in Russia as “a business option in accordance with growing sales in the country,” but has no specific details yet.

Mitsubishi acknowledged the move in a statement after the Nikkei business newspaper reported that the Japanese automaker is finalizing a plan to produce a midsize sedan as early as 2010, possibly in St. Petersburg, through a joint venture with French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

Nissan formed an alliance with Renault in 1999. Renault owns a 44 percent stake in Nissan, which in turn hold 15 percent of the French automaker. The two companies have a combined annual output of roughly 6 million vehicles, together making them the world’s No. 4 automaker.

The world’s biggest automaker, General Motors Corp., said in October that it had called off discussion with Nissan and Renault on a possible three-way alliance.