Confirming a report that first appeared on TheDetroitBureau.com last year, sources confirm that Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. have approved plans to jointly produce luxury vehicles at a new facility the Japanese maker is soon to open in central Mexico.
Specific details of the plan are expected to be outlined at a media briefing Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche will host during the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. The two executives have spearheaded a fast-growing alliance that now covers a range of component and vehicle design and manufacturing partnerships.
Some specifics remain uncertain, but the focus of the effort is expected to be based off the new NGCC, or New Generation Compact Car, architecture developed by Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand and used on such products as the new A-Class and the new CLA model that will debut in the U.S. later this year. At least initially, the joint production effort will focus on another small Mercedes model, the all-new GLA, as well as the Infiniti Q30.
The two vehicles – the Infiniti in concept form — also will be highlighted during news conferences in Frankfurt next week.
The makers are likely to produce both vehicles in more than one location. A report in Reuters suggested Infiniti also will produce the Q30 at a factory in the U.K. But the Mexican-made version of the 4-seater would serve various markets in the Americas, especially the U.S.
The plant that both Nissan and Daimler plan to share is going into the booming industrial city of Aguascalientes, the $2 billion complex set to open up late this year.
As TheDetroitBureau.com earlier reported, Daimler discussed the possibility of setting up its own assembly plant on the Nissan complex. Sources would not confirm whether that is still part of the strategy or if Mercedes products will, in fact, roll down the same line as Infiniti and Nissan models. By sharing the NGCC architecture, the flexible new Nissan factory could, in fact, handle a variety of different products.
Though the two partners have issued an alert on next week’s Ghosn-Zetsche news conference, neither Daimler nor Nissan would confirm the joint production agreement.
“We have made no decisions or announcements regarding additional phases of production at our new Aguascalientes facility,” said a Nissan e-mail in response to questions from TheDetroitBureau.com.
Both of the executives did previously confirm that they were discussing joint production, and Mercedes has openly been discussing options for a second North American plant to supplement its current facility near Birmingham, Alabama. Mexico had been considered the most likely location, with or without a Nissan partnership.
Mexico has, in fact, been luring in a number of automakers in recent years, including Mercedes’ arch-rival Audi. It has the advantage of extremely low labor rates as well as the fact that Mexico has more free trade agreements in place than any other country but Israel. That makes the country an attractive export base even as its own automotive market grows rapidly.
(Click Here to read about Nissan’s plans to boost production in the Americas.)
Nissan has been in a tight alliance with French automaker Renault since 1999 but those two makers brought in Daimler in an expanded, if looser, partnership in 2010. Among other things, they are working together on a new microcar platform for both Renault and Daimler’s Smart brand.
(Daimler closer to decision about sharing Mexico plant with Nissan. For more, Click Here.)
Going forward, it would come as little surprise if the Aguascaliente plant took on other Mercedes models based off the NGCC architecture, possibly including the CLA which will initially be produced in Hungary. Considering the U.S. is expected to be a key market, it would make sense to base at least some production in Mexico, as well.