Men walk past a Nissan Motor Co logo at the company's global headquarters in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in this February 9 2011 file photo. Picture: REUTERS
Men walk past a Nissan Motor Co logo at the company's global headquarters in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in this February 9 2011 file photo. Picture: REUTERS

Buenos Aires — Nissan Motor may decide soon on building another factory in China as the company pursues a goal of expanding sales in the country by 1-million units by 2022, according to its CEO.

"[The] first step is adding capacity [to] the existing operation. We still have some room to expand," CEO Hiroto Saikawa said during an interview in Cordoba, Argentina on Monday. "[The] second step is that we may add another new plant" that would have the capacity to build 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles.

China is poised to overtake the US to become Nissan’s biggest market this year, and the Japanese car maker trails only Volkswagen (VW) and General Motors in the country. Nissan officials said in February that the second-largest Japanese vehicle maker planned to spend ¥1-trillion over five years to become the largest global electrified vehicle maker in China.

Dongfeng Motor Group, Nissan’s partner in China, will invest 1-billion yuan ($146m) to turn an existing facility in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, into a production site for Nissan with an annual capacity of 120,000 units, the Chinese car maker said last month. The plant will give Nissan a foothold in eastern China, complementing its facilities in the northern, southern and central parts of the country.

Saikawa was in Cordoba, 644km northwest of Buenos Aires, for the opening of a plant to build Nissan Frontier pickups. The investment of about $600m will include hiring about 1,000 direct workers and creating 2,000 indirect jobs.

Nissan may need another factory in the US, where it’s trying to cut its dependence on incentives and discounted deliveries to rental fleets, Saikawa said. The company is willing to discuss building one with alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors, though nothing has been discussed yet, he said, and the need isn’t urgent. "We don’t need capacity in 2019, but for 2020 to 2022 we may be getting to the position that we may need to seek capacity for the US market."

Nissan shares added 0.5% as of 11.30am in Tokyo. The stock had lost about 6% this year by the end of trade on Monday.

Bloomberg