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Nissan to invest further 3b rand in South African plant for Navara model

Johannesburg

NISSAN Motor Co plans to invest a further three billion rand (S$290 million) in its South African plant to prepare for production of the latest version of the Navara pickup.

The decision by the Japanese carmaker may add 30,000 units to the plant's current annual volume of 35,000, Mike Whitfield, managing director of Nissan Africa, said at the factory north of Pretoria on Wednesday. The manufacture of the Navara from 2020 will also create about 400 direct jobs in a country which has an unemployment rate of 27 per cent.

"Automotive is already the largest part of South Africa's manufacturing sector, contributing around 7 per cent of gross domestic product annually and accounting for a third of manufacturing output," South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said at the Nissan facility in Rosslyn.

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Nissan's investment is the first significant commitment by an automaker since international firms agreed with the government late last year to extend a manufacturing incentive programme through 2035.

The plan has also seen the likes of Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG and BMW AG operate plants in the country, in return for generous tax breaks. The majority of vehicles are produced for export.

Nissan plans to more than double its industrial reach in the Middle East, Africa and India by 2022 by adding more factories, Peyman Kargar, chairman of the carmaker's operations in those three territories, said in an interview last month.

"By 2022 we want to double our presence in Africa and South Africa is the most important base for this growth," Mr Kargar said on Wednesday. "We export to more than 45 countries from South Africa and with the new Navara this will be even more." BLOOMBERG