Nissan restarts building China Infiniti plant delayed by Japan tensions

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:13am

Nissan Motor's premium Infiniti brand has restarted construction of a plant in northeastern China after plans for the factory were delayed by rising Sino-Japanese tensions in 2012.

Lu Feng, head of the legal and securities affairs department at Nissan's mainland manufacturing partner Dongfeng Motor, said the factory, in Dalian, Liaoning, would take 12 to 14 months to complete and have an initial annual production capacity of at least 100,000 vehicles.

"We had to slow the project down due to the Sino-Japan relationship," Lu said yesterday.

Infiniti is preparing to start production on the mainland as foreign carmakers step up investments to increase their share of the world's largest car market. Japanese-branded car sales slumped on the mainland in the aftermath of a consumer boycott in 2012 after tensions escalated between the two nations over ownership of a group of islands in the East China Sea.

Infiniti is counting on further gains on the mainland next year as it begins building the long-wheelbase versions of the Q50 and QX50 crossover later this year at Nissan's Xiangyang plant.

At the height of the Sino-Japanese tensions in 2012, Infiniti delayed plans for the Dalian factory and retooled a production line at the Xiangyang plant, Lu said. The company would shift production to Dalian if the Xiangyang factory ran out of capacity, he said.

Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen said last month global deliveries would rise more than 10 per cent to a record 200,000 this fiscal year, with mainland sales jumping at least 75 per cent.