Yes, you read that headline correctly.
Nissan is looking to build its hot-selling frame-based models, the Terra SUV and Navara pick-up, right here in the Philippines. And they're not putting up a new factory; instead, they are asking Alliance partner Mitsubishi to do it at the Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) plant in Laguna.
The news comes directly from the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Nissan, Ashwani Gupta, during a press briefing earlier today about the company's revised midterm plan.
“Our second biggest market in ASEAN is the Philippines where we enjoy great market share in frame-based vehicles,” continued Nissan's COO. “We are studying with Mitsubishi to utilize the plant in the Philippines for our frame-based vehicles.”
If those statements from Nissan's COO push through, that could mean Nissan's two best selling models in the country, the Navara and Terra could join the L300, Mirage, and Mirage G4 as locally-built models at the MMPC assembly lines in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
The plan is very logical. Nissan is re-designating Thailand as the sole export hub in the region and plans to shutter their factories in Indonesia as they focus on their key markets like North America, China, and Japan. That means Thailand could be stretched to capacity if their factories there have to export to more markets.
Mitsubishi, being the strongest Alliance member in South East Asia, will be taking the lead in the region for the group. That means shared facilities and other back-end costs. Actually, they're already doing it, as Nissan already has a joint training center with Mitsubishi at the Santa Rosa, Laguna factory.
“When we talk about prioritization and focus, ASEAN is a great market for us,” said Gupta. “When we look at our capability and capacity to cater to the demands in this region, we do believe we need a partner in this region. We look to strengthen our partnership with Mitsubishi.”
What we're unsure of is whether the planned Philippine production of Nissan's frame-based vehicles will be for the current generation Terra/Navara or for the next generation models. What Gupta also said is that they are pushing for better commonality between their model platforms with Mitsubishi.
“We are working very closely with Mitsubishi for common platforms for next Triton and next Navara,” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan COO.
Nissan has been gaining traction in the Philippine market, particularly with the Terra and Navara; two models that are performing well in terms of sales and market share. Having two Nissan models with significant sales in the country be manufactured (complete with stamping) or even just assembled from CKD kits certainly makes plenty of business sense.
We'll know more about this new development soon enough.