SHANGHAI, China -- Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is revving into China's growing market for SUVs through a joint venture in central Henan province, which aims to make 10,000 units in its first year.
Japan's third largest automaker said Wednesday that its 30 percent-owned venture, Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile Co. Ltd., had started producing the Paladin SUV, available in 2.4-liter and 3.3-liter models, on Tuesday.
A company spokesman said the retail price of the SUV would be announced when the first models hit showrooms. He did not specify when this would be.
Zhengzhou Light Automobile Works and China's flagship investment vehicle, CITIC Holdings, both own a 35 percent stake in the tie-up with Nissan, the statement said.
Zhengzhou Nissan also makes the Nissan-branded Pickup and has an annual production capacity of 60,000 units.
Nissan also has a 50-50 venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp., one of China's largest auto groups. That venture aims to make 550,000 vehicles by 2006.
Foreign automakers are racing ahead with plans to manufacture sedans in China, looking at the world's fastest growing market for cars, but the SUV arena also is filling up.
Automakers based in China sold 3.248 million vehicles last year, a 37.1 percent increase over 2001.
The Paladin debuted in China at the Beijing auto show last June. It will go head-to-head with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Land Cruiser, Honda Motor Corp.'s CRV, Mitsubishi Motors' Pajero and General Motors' Chevrolet Blazer.
Mitsubishi, which expects overall sales of SUVs in China to double to 128,000 by 2010, is expected to begin producing the Pajero Sport and Outlander models in China next month through a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler AG and Beijing Jeep Corp.