Nissan Motors to sell Micra in India

MUMBAI, May 24, 2010 (AFP) – Nissan Motor said Monday that production its Micra model had started in India and would be on sale from July to compete in the country’s fast-growing passenger car market. Bookings will open Tuesday for the small hatchback, which is being produced by the Indian arm of Japan’s Nissan in the southern city of Chennai in alliance with its partner, French car maker Renault.

The firms plan to produce 80,000 cars in the first 12 months starting May, and 400,000 cars a year by 2014.

“This is the right product at the right time,” said Kiminobu Tokuyama, chief executive of Nissan Motor India in a statement Monday.

Global automakers have been racing to compete in China and India, the world’s two fastest-growing major economies, as sales in most developed countries slumped due to the fallout from the global financial crisis.

India and its 1.2 billion-strong population is a huge draw because of the low number of car owners, estimated at just 13 per 1,000 Indians.

The Micra seeks to challenge rivals like the Swift, from India’s biggest passenger car maker Maruti, and Hyundai’s i10 — both small cars targeted for India’s affluent middle-class.