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Nissan Motor to build auto plant in Mexico

The plant, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, will have initial capacity to build 175,000 light vehicles annually for the United States, Mexico and Latin America, with plans…

The plant, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, will have initial capacity to build 175,000 light vehicles annually for the United States, Mexico and Latin America, with plans to expand. Production is scheduled to begin by the end of next year.

Nissan did not specify what model will be produced at the plant initially, but one company executive described it as “an existing B-segment nameplate that is currently in short supply.” That description suggests the subcompact Versa, which already is built at an existing Nissan plant in Aguascalientes and sold in the United States and other markets.

It hopes to capture 10 percent of the U.S. market; outsell the Honda brand for the first time; move more vehicle production out of Japan to North America; and become the dominant Japanese automaker in Latin America.

So Nissan and other Japanese automakers are scrambling as they have not done since the 1980s to shift output outside of Japan to North America and other regions.

Nissan and Daimler announced in early January that they will share a four-cylinder engine that Nissan will begin producing at its engine plant in Decherd, Tenn. But those engines are for other vehicles.

Nissan has not indicated where it will obtain the engines to support the additional vehicle production in Aguascalientes. But it is unlikely to import engines from Japan because of the strong yen.

Whatever it does, Nissan wants to move quickly, seizing on the unexpected U.S. market success it enjoyed in 2011.

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