BUSAN ― Renault Samsung Motors has signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Nissan to produce an annual 80,000 units of the new Rogue compact SUV at its Busan plant starting next year to supply to the North American market.
“We are currently working hard in Busan to prepare for this project, which is going to be a win-win-win project among Renault, Nissan and Renault Samsung,” said Francois Provost, chief executive of Renault Samsung Motors, at a press conference here.
The deal would bring 600 billion won ($540 million) worth of sales for auto suppliers in Busan, Provost said.
|(From left) Renault Samsung Motors CEO Francois Provost, Nissan’s Management Committee Americas chairman Colin Dodge and Renault’s Asia-Pacific head Gilles Normand pose at a ceremony to conclude an MOU at RSM’s Busan plant on Monday. (RSM)|
According to Colin Dodge, Nissan’s chairman of Management Committee Americas, the production of Rogue would help increase the Japanese carmaker’s share in the crossover SUV segment to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in North America.
“(The Rogue) is a very strong product, and the U.S. is an enormous market for this segment and we decided to ask Busan to fill up for the U.S.,” he said.
Also produced in Japan and within the U.S., the Rogue has been enjoying huge popularity in the U.S., being Nissan’s second-biggest-selling model in North America with sales of over 140,000 units last year.
It follows the Altima, the No. 1 selling car, and is on par with others such as the Pathfinder that together form the pillar of Nissan in North America, Dodge said.
The current Rogue will be sold alongside the new version dubbed the “Rogue Select.”
The Busan project highlights the strong alliance between the two carmakers, Renault and Nissan, the auto executives said.
“The Renault-Nissan alliance is a very rare, successful collaboration in automobile industry,” Dodge said. “Today’s milestone demonstrates the growing opportunities within the Renault-Nissan alliance.”
Further, the move puts Renault Samsung back in the spotlight, according to Gilles Normand, head of Renault’s Asia-Pacific division: “We think RSM is going to be back as one of the biggest prides of the Renault family.”
Renault aims for the Asia-Pacific region, including Korea, to represent one-fifth of the group by 2018.
But Normand stressed that the carmaker had a weak presence in the Korean market, which is an area it should be addressing.
“We ask Renault Samsung to work for a bigger domestic market share,” Normand said.
Last month, the local unit of Renault sold 2.4 percent less compared to a year earlier, to post sales that were below Ssangyong, previously the smallest automaker in the country, operated by Mahindra & Mahindra.
By Kim Ji-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)