Nissan to Build VW Golf Fighter for European Market

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Nissan plans to invest $200 million to build a new Euro-market compact hatchback, Automotive News reports. Meant to compete directly with the VW Golf and Ford Focus, the new car will first see production in 2014 and be built at Nissan’s assembly plant in Sunderland, England. The upcoming hatchback will mark Nissan’s return to Europe’s competitive compact class, a segment the Japanese automaker left in 2006.

The new model will join the Qashqai and Juke compact crossovers on the assembly line at Sunderland, along with the Nissan Leaf EV and a new subcompact model based on the Invitation concept that debuted in Geneva earlier this year. An additional shift will help facilitate production of these new vehicles at the Sunderland plant, which will have its capacity expanded to 550,000 units per year. Last year, the factory produced 480,485 vehicles.

Nissan’s last venture into the European compact market ended when it ceased production of the Almera. That car saw its sales shrink to the point that Nissan decided to drop the model from most European markets by 2006. With this in mind, IHS Automotive analyst Ian Fletcher told Automotive News Nissan’s decision to reenter the competitive mainstream compact segment was “curious.” The analyst said the upcoming hatchback will likely utilize Nissan’s B platform, which is shared with a number of Nissan models including the Leaf.

Details on the new car have not been released, but Automotive News says industry observers expect it to be based on the second-generation Nissan Tiida, a car we know in the U.S. as the Versa sedan. Nissan says more details, including the official name, specifications, and pricing, will be released closer to the car’s launch in 2014.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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