Nissan, Stallion sign Nigeria assembly deal
PARIS, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The Renault-Nissan Alliance and West African conglomerate Stallion Group have signed a preliminary agreement to start vehicle assembly in Nigeria and potentially create a major Nissan manufacturing hub for Africa.
The memorandum of understanding would see Stallion, which is Nissan's exclusive distributor in the country, increase capacity at its existing plant in Lagos, Renault-Nissan said in a statement on Wednesday.
Stallion currently produces commercial vehicles at the facility, but the plant's annual capacity would be expanded to 45,000 units to assemble a range of cars, light duty trucks, pickups and vans, the alliance said.
"Nissan is preparing to make Nigeria a significant manufacturing hub in Africa," said Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and Renault. "As the first-mover in Nigeria, we are positioned for the long-term growth of this market and across the broader continent."
The move comes as the government is expected to approve a new policy designed to encourage the development of the automobile industry in Nigeria, the carmakers said.
The first vehicle to be introduced was expected to be the Nissan Patrol SUV in the spring of next year. The plant would also be opened to French auto group Renault, though the companies did not give any details.
Japan's Nissan is aiming to double annual sales in Africa by 2016 from 110,000 units last year. It already plans to launch the Datsun brand in South Africa before the end of next year.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Mark Potter)