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Nissan launches to play hard & # 39; to & # 39; protagonist & # 39; to be in Latin America

The Japanese manufacturer

It is clear that "protagonist" in Latin America, as intended, "has to play hard" and endure the current financial crisis in Argentina, where they opened their new factory in July, explains Efe the president of the automotive industry for the region , José Luis Valls.

"We are not playing hard here to be a marginal player, we want to be protagonists and a very relevant player in the region," he says in an interview with Efe in Miami, where he leads the Nissan operation in the region.

When he talks about his bet, he refers to the $ 600 million invested in the plant in Córdoba (Argentina), which officially started production on July 31, which is added to the production line of Resende (Brazil), where they are injected another $ 187.5 million more, and was optimistic that they should increase their capacity in the future.

"What we need to start is to play hard in the countries that set the pace," he says, referring to Brazil and Argentina, which represent 70% of the total sector in the region.

The times in which they were "limited to playing as importers" lagged behind and met 3 or 4% of the total industry, without an industrial base in Argentina and Brazil, but now they are aiming for much more with Resende and Córdoba's plants.

Nissan comes with 3% of total market penetration in 2013 to more than 5% this year, an objective that was initially marked for two years.

But Valls says they now have "what to play with" and his plan must be made in a six-year period with 7-8% of the market based on the current investment, in figures, he emphasizes, who are conservative .

To realize this bet on the passenger car that leaves Resende – March, Versa and Kicks – and the Frontier truck manufactured in Cordoba, where two other pick – ups are installed under the same architecture, one for Renault and one other Daimler under the brand Mercedes-Benz.

He explains that the production in Córdoba is "very good" and they deliver the cars "according to the plan" and with the idea to gradually "speed up", but "in the first weeks" guarantee a lot of quality.

But the inauguration of July in Córdoba, attended by President Mauricio Macri, is marred by a disturbed & # 39; economic framework in Argentina with a 98% devaluation of the local currency against the dollar so far in 2018, and 34% in August, which forced them to adjust the "plans to reality".

Although it does not specify in detail what these adjustments exist, it is explained that this situation led to their "aggressive plan" of gambling continuing to maintain the operation in a "very efficient" way and accelerating the alliance with local production partners.

"In order to protect against exchange rate fluctuations, you have to be very localized in parts," says Valls, who admits, however, that he would have liked more time to strengthen the commitment to work with local suppliers.

Recognizing that the environment is not the "ideal" in the short term, therefore, Nissan's head for Latin America is asking the government to maintain "clear rules" to plan ahead.

He assures, however, that the financial situation in Argentina in "nothing" changes his plans in the long term, since the "volatility" must be regarded as something "inherent" to the region, and he continues to hold fast to his trust in the foundations " very strong". "from Argentina in vans and vehicles in general.

Despite the "turbulence" in Argentina, Valls is very positive about the region, where "all" of the car companies in the world want to join, knowing that a "potential" is given by its large population, low motorization index and its wealth in raw materials, although still with the "need" of infrastructure investments.

In his bet, from March or April 2019, will be the electric Leaf, although he will do it in a "small" way, and reflect on progress in his strategy of "intelligent mobility", based on three pillars: electrification , connectivity and autonomy.

"In the region we are accelerating strongly in the first two", while autonomy is not a "priority", although for electrification it recognizes that "there is not the same picture for Latin America" ​​and each country goes at a different speed in terms of regulations.

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