• Kyodo

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Dongfeng Motor Co., a joint venture between Nissan Motor Co. and DongFeng Motor Corp. of China, began manufacturing Nissan’s new Sunny car Monday at its plant in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.

The 50-50 joint venture, established in May in Wuhan, Hubei Province, is part of Nissan’s spearhead into the fast-growing Chinese market, where competitors, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., have had a stronger showing.

At a commemoration ceremony, Nissan Senior Vice President Katsumi Nakamura, who has been named president of the venture, explained the strategy for China.

Nissan and the Chinese partner have nurtured a relationship over the past years through production of Nissan Bluebird sedans at a DongFeng group firm, Fengshen.

With the new joint venture launching production of the 2,000cc Sunny this year, Nissan plans to build its Teana luxury sedan there next year.

The production capacity of cars at the joint venture is aimed at 270,000 units a year in the future, up sharply from the current 60,000.

Nissan plans to introduce six models, including the Sunny and the Teana, in China by 2006, and to build sales networks for Nissan vehicles to sell some 550,000 units a year, including 220,000 cars.

Vehicle ownership in China has been rising sharply, with annual sales expected to top 10 million units this year.

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