Nissan Motor Co. said it will start assembling cars in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, this year for the first time, becoming the latest automaker to begin production in the Southeast Asian country as it opens up to foreign investment. Nissan has been selling imported vehicles in Myanmar since 2013.
Japan’s second-largest automaker said it would initially use an existing facility of partner Tan Chong Motor Group to assemble the Sunny compact sedan in Myanmar’s small, but growing, auto market. Later, it plans to move to a new plant in the Bago region, where it will be able to produce 10,000 units annually. The carmaker expects to sell more than 1,000 units annually within two to three years.
Nissan is the second Japanese automaker to establish a manufacturing presence in Myanmar, after Suzuki Motor Corp. began producing its Ertiga multi-purpose vehicle last year.
“Demand in Myanmar is expected to grow rapidly following economic and political reforms in the country,” Nissan said in a statement.
In 2012, Myanmar initiated its transformation to a more democratic and market-based economy. With the market reforms that have been initiated recently, Myanmar’s private sector transport services and personal transport means have seen a boom. During 2012-2013, the number of registered cars grew by 53% and motorcycles by 75%. In 2013, the number of trucks grew by 55%. After the initial catch-up phase is over, the demand for transport is expected to grow about 30% faster than the economy, with the car fleet expected to grow at 15% or more each year, according to a report from Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).