Nissan Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. announced Friday they will expand their existing partnership by supplying minicars, minivans and pickup trucks to each other both at home and abroad.
Suzuki said it will build Nissan vehicles at its assembly plant in India, but added the two sides are still discussing details, including which Nissan models it will make and when production will begin.
Under Friday’s agreement, by the end of this year Nissan will supply Suzuki with a minivan, while Suzuki — which already supplies Nissan with its Moco minicar, sold under its own brand — will supply another minicar model. Both vehicles will be sold in Japan.
Starting in 2008, Nissan will supply Suzuki with a compact pickup truck for the North American market. In return, Suzuki will provide a small car to Nissan for sale in Europe.
At a news conference in Tokyo, executives from the carmakers stressed the agreement was beneficial to both sides.
Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said his company will be able to sell minicars, whose sales are rising thanks to higher gasoline prices, without having to use its own resources for research and development. Nissan does not manufacture its own minicars, which by definition have engine displacements of no more than 660cc.
Shiga said the deal will allow Nissan to quickly meet market needs.
Suzuki President Hiroshi Tsuda said, “By obtaining pickup trucks — which are popular in North America — from Nissan, it will benefit us (by allowing us) to build up our brand name.”
The agreement is seen as part of a broader move by Suzuki to build closer ties with Nissan after its relationship with General Motors Corp. of the United States loosened following the latter’s reduction of its stake in the Japanese automaker to 3 percent from 20 percent in March.
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