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Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it will debut a remodeled version of the Presage luxury minivan on the domestic market July 24 in a bid to win the intensifying competition in that vehicle category.

“This car is going to enter a very crowded market,” Nissan President Carlos Ghosn said. “I’m confident that people would be very excited about the model,” which allows the passenger seats to be easily rearranged.

While the domestic market is stagnant now with the small-car boom settling down, some carmakers are trying to cash in on the minivan segment.

Toyota Motor Corp. introduced the Wish compact minivan in January and it was the best selling model in April at 14,549 units.

The Mitsubishi Grandis van, which debuted in May, is also selling well. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. received 7,187 orders in the first two weeks.

Honda Motor Co. plans to release a redesigned Odyssey minivan this fall.

Despite the heated competition, Nissan has set an aggressive sales target for the new Presage at 5,000 units a month.

Ghosn said Nissan will have a good chance to win the race because it is offering an attractive product at a competitive price.

The model, with an engine displacement of 2,500cc or 3,500cc, is priced at 2.13 million yen to 3.06 million yen.

Nissan also announced Thursday it will start manufacturing the successor of the Pathfinder sport utility vehicle in fall 2004 at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

The current model is being produced at Nissan’s Kyushu plant in Fukuoka Prefecture and exported to North America.

To carry out the project, Nissan will invest about $250 million to expand the U.S. plant, company officials said. As a result, production capacity at the factory will increase to 550,000 units a year from the present 500,000 units, they said.

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