NASHVILLE -- Faced with growing U.S. market share and a reduced ability to import vehicles from Japan, Nissan North America will spend $2 billion to construct its fifth North American auto assembly plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
The new factory -- sited close to Nissan's existing Aguascalientes assembly plant -- will add capacity for 175,000 vehicles a year to the company's tailwind of rising sales and market position in the Americas. The likely candidate for initial production is the subcompact Versa.
Nissan plans to move from groundbreaking to commercial production by the end of 2013.
Nissan North America closed 2011 with an 8.2 percent U.S. market share, up from 7.8 percent in 2010. The company hopes eventually to obtain a 10 percent share.
But it needs additional factory capacity to get there. Bill Krueger, vice chairman over the region, says his assembly plants are running out of capacity as sales grow in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and other regional markets.
Complicating the mission, Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn has virtually banned any idea of shipping more Japan-made vehicles into the United States because of the high value of the Japanese yen. According to Ghosn, the yen has simply made Japan-built vehicles uncompetitive outside of Japan.