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Nissan Motor Co. will soon forge a business alliance with Chinese auto giant Dong Feng Automobile Co. to produce cars in China beginning next year, sources said Wednesday.

The firms will establish a joint venture that will produce the Cefiro, the Sunny, and other Nissan models, as well as cars based on a new version of the March, the sources said.

The venture will shoot for 100,000 to 150,000 cars a year, starting in 2003.

Nissan President Carlos Ghosn will go to China on Thursday to ink the accord, the sources said.

Nissan’s plan to enter the rapidly growing Chinese auto market is part of its plan to boost global sales to 3.6 million from 2.6 million units within three years, the sources said.

Dong Feng is one of China’s three major automakers. Its financial base, however, is weak because of its focus on trucks.

Dong Feng intends to improve efficiency by placing its vehicle operations under the auspices of the joint venture, according to the Japanese financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

In addition to the alliance with Nissan, Dong Feng has already established alliances with Honda Motor Co. and French giant PSA Peugeot Citroen Group.

Japanese automakers have been making steady progress increasing their presence in the burgeoning Chinese car market.

Toyota Motor Corp. forged an alliance with industry giant China FAW Group Corp. in August and has decided to produce luxury sedans. Honda, meanwhile, is gearing up to build a second factory in China.

Demio doing well

Mazda Motor Corp. said Wednesday it has received about 15,000 orders for its remodeled Demio compact car since its introduction in early August, well exceeding its first full-month target of 7,000 units.

Mazda launched the redesigned model in Japan in a bid to bolster its sluggish domestic sales amid rising competition in the compact-car market.

Mazda is owned 33.3 percent by U.S. auto giant Ford Motor Co.

The new Demio, available with a 1,300cc or 1,500cc engine, comes in three types: Casual, the basic model; Cozy, targeting women; and Sport, targeting men.

The new model, called Mazda2 overseas, will be marketed in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong in November, and in Europe beginning March, Mazda said.

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